Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trump Ennui

It is bad enough that he is omnipresent like a Cheshire cat on the airways, on line, wherever you turn, but to have him as a “neighbor” as well is pure overload.  I suppose he misses the gold-plated Mar-a-Lago and the opportunity to play on his own golf courses in the sun.  More likely, it is the procession which draws him here, the parade of pomp and preparation, and his brand being brandished.

Days in advance our local newspaper breathlessly announces his highness’ arrival, expectantly and cautionary as it causes total disruption in the area.  This coming visit involves Chinese President XI and his entourage who will be staying at the Eau Palm Beach which used to have the more hotel-like name of Ritz Carlton.  I once stayed there for a big corporate conference myself.  It’s palatial, but I suppose Trump’s Mar-a-Lago gives it a good run for its money.  So you can catch Xi at the Eau. 

Palm Beach County – and in particular Palm Beach itself – will be a traffic nightmare.  Thus far the expense of these numerous Trump visits is borne by the County.  Trump makes a big deal of donating his $78k quarterly salary to the US National Parks Dept, while cutting its parent Department of the Interior’s budget by $2 billion.  According to my math, it’ll take him more than 6,000 years of donating his salary to make up the difference.  Maybe I have an extra zero someplace, or missed a zero as it seems like a VERY long time but if he lasts 6,000 years in office, all the more power to him. It could happen as everything he does is amazing, big time, etc.

He refuses to pick up Palm Beach County’s expense of guarding him so he can play golf in the sunshine.  Perhaps the County’s officials should read “his” Art of the Deal and walk away from the table, go protect yourself, Donald.  It might be the only way they/we can get reimbursement for those expenses.  But the County officials like to delude themselves that as Trump’s visits put Palm Beach County in the limelight that will increase tourism and thus drive tax revenue.  Do you want to visit PBC because Trump is frequently here?  I guess Washington DC’s tourism is on the wane as the star is rarely there on weekends.

I can’t imagine why the Chinese delegation agreed to meet at Mar-a-Lago where Trump can flaunt his ego.  After all, there are very weighty issues to be discussed. Where does one get the idea that these can be easily discussed while teeing off on a golf course?  Why not stay in the White House where there is a bowling alley?  They can discuss the issues while joking about Trump’s 7-10 split.  Trump is a good golfer (my neighbor is one of his pros) and he probably wants to play games he can easily win.  Look at me!

This egomaniacal inexperienced President is now toying with one of the most serious international issues of his presidency, the growing threat of North Korea.  Making statements like, we’ll go it alone if China doesn’t act or Tillerson’s inexplicable dropping of the mike simply saying “the United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment," does not exactly inspire confidence.  We’re talking nuclear war here, folks, not jobs for coal-miners.  Not that the latter is unimportant but that is in an industry that is dying because of alternative energy supplies, including natural gas.  It’s going the way horse-drawn carriages when the automobile became dominant.  Focus on the right stuff!

The first 100 days are not yet over but it already seems like 1,000.  There are so many issues that keep me restless at night, day, whenever, the Syrian humanitarian crisis, the impending Korean disaster, decimating environmental budgets and regulations,  the gas lighting of fake news, Russia’s possible interference with the election and the general vulnerability that the Internet and social media create, the continuing inability of Congress to function, the callous consequences of misguided immigration and refugee proposals, impracticable building of a wall in the middle of the Rio Grande river while our Infrastructure is falling apart, tax reform which will inevitably favor the rich including the removal of the inheritance tax, unrealistic border taxes (and extremely difficult to articulate and manage), and I can go on and on, but what’s the sense? 

At mid-term elections I will cast my one vote, if we last that long – given the consequences of the ischemic seizure of our entire governing process and the self-serving dilettantes now at the tiller.  I’ve written often about DJT even though I mightily try to ignore him, my resolve weak due to ongoing embarrassment for our nation and, now, just plain fear. I write as a form of catharsis. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Catch 22 in Washington

What is one supposed to expect from Washington nowadays other than a Kafkaesque response to communication?  Of the several emails I recently sent concerning the government shutdown and the debt crisis, my favorite exchange was with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's office. Here's mine which I tried to keep brief and to the point:

To use the shutdown of the government and, far worse, the possible default on our debt as a hostage for repealing a law that has already been passed, adjudicated, is the worst kind of governing I can imagine and I blame this on the Republican Party, particularly the fringe elements, a Party I used to admire. This kind of brinksmanship reminds me of the Cuban Missile crisis, but being played out with the full faith and credit of our country as the A bomb (I lived in NYC then and remember the anxiety clearly).  Why not deal with the weaknesses of the Affordable Care Act (which is the proper name, not Obamacare) when they become evident during its implication? It makes me furious at my representatives and apprehensive for this country

One minute later, I got the following response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me, please be advised due to the government shutdown, my office is currently closed. My office will respond to your concerns or resume work on your case as soon as the office reopens. In the interim, if you would like to leave a comment for me, you may still do so at 1-866-630-7106 (within Florida) or 202-224-3041.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Thus, I first called the Florida number, and it was busy.  So I called the Washington number and got one of those happy, professional recordings, one option was to leave a message concerning any legislative matters.  So, that is the option I chose.

Then, even a more friendly voice responded,  I'm sorry, that mailbox is full.  Goodbye.
The end. 

PS When I wrote this entry, I had no idea that practically concurrently President Obama was calling the failure to raise the debt ceiling an economic "nuclear bomb."  Amen to that.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flag Day and the Electronic World

Flag Day. A time to reflect on the adoption of the flag we honor, and what it symbolizes.  In the world of 1776, it is a nation committed to freedom in its purist form.  Oceans separated us from the rest of the world, difficult for an invading army to breach that defense. 

The Second Amendment, giving us the right to bear arms, was passed in 1791, a means of maintaining a civilian militia. ("A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.")  At the time the flintlock musket was the standard weapon. Count on being able to fire it maybe 2-3 times a minute. Arms have evolved to the point where a deranged individual can hoard a surfeit of automatic weapons, making that one person a veritable army.

And communications used to be dependent on the mail, then the telegraph, the telephone, and now electronic everything, marrying all methods of communication from the printed word to video.  The Internet has given rise to threats that could not even be imagined by the framers of the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment.

Maybe it is time for a public debate on the issue, but the data mining being done by the National Security Agency cannot be a surprise to anyone.  Edward Snowden's so called whistle blowing merely politicizes what most suspected. 

If anyone asked us the day after 9/11 whether the government should make use of private electronic communications with the sole objective of preventing any such future event, we would have merely said, where do we sign on?  How short everyone's memory is.  It is ironic that a liberal constitutional law professor -- Barack Obama -- now, as President, is carrying forth the NSA program which had been condoned by his predecessor.

The brave new electronic world exponentially enhances the weapons of guerrilla warfare, the preferred tactic of terrorist adversaries.  One does not fight this with the tactics of warfare when the Constitution was written, soldiers standing in straight lines right out in the open.  Clandestine electronic communications are fodder for equally clandestine data mining.  So, let the "debate" begin in Washington, but if it is anything like exchanges over the budget, it is liable to do more harm than good, unless there can be some consensus on an oversight mechanism that still preserves the intent of the program.

In this regard, I can't help but think of Aaron Sorkin's brilliant movie, A Few Good Men.  When Col. Nathan R. Jessup faces Lt. Daniel Kaffee on the stand, we are all rooting for Kaffee, recognizing the menace that Jessup represents.  But that was 1992.  With a little editing (my apologies to Mr. Sorkin), I can imagine how this might go today...

NSA to Snowden: Son, we live in a world of electronic communications, ones terrorists routinely use, and we have to be guarded by high tech surveillance. Who's gonna do it? You, Mr. Snowden? We have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for your loss of freedoms and you curse the NSA. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what we know, that some loss of privacy, while tragic, probably saved lives. And our existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want us data mining. You need us on that job. We have neither the time nor the inclination to explain ourselves to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the security that we provide, and then questions the manner in which we provide it! I would rather you just said "thank you", and went on your way.