I Doth Fear

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Innocent Shakespeare in the Park or violent assassination incitement of the President of the United States? 


Kathy Griffin holding up a severed head of the President.


Stephen Colbert’s tirade and obscenities.


And the list goes on and on…


Is this resistance or are things perhaps going too far for political discourse? 


Whatever your views, does the rhetoric need to get any hotter or more violent in this country. 


Cooler heads and compromise need to prevail for anything positive to come from all this.


Is it not still possible to unite under the shared values of freedom, human rights, and democracy that we all presumably hold dear and use these to advance our common cause? 


At least twice now protesters have stormed the Shakespearean stage calling the incitement as an evil portrayal reminiscent of those like Nazi Propaganda Minister, Goebbels (may his name and memory be erased).


The other side pretends nothing is going on and says, but it’s only Shakespeare. 


Demonstrating against the actors’ nightly violent portraying (and perhaps undisguised wishing for) the killing of the President, the plays’ protesters are themselves summarily dragged off by security.


Nothing seems to stop the shrill words, calls for violence, and violence itself. 


Just last week, we had the unreal and gross shooting of Congressman Whip, Steve Scalise, at an early morning baseball practice with his colleagues. 


For those who care to glimpse down the road, what happens from here as we seem to forget who we are as people and as a nation, and we let extremists take over the agenda.


I doth fear (a little Shakespeare myself here) that the problem with extremism and violence is that it can too easily beget more extremism and violence.


Incessant name-calling, an avalanche of punches by the media, hostility on college campuses towards free speech, SNL just poking fun (is this really so funny anymore), an inciting Shakespearean play, plus marches, protests, and then taking things too far.


Like the closing in a classic Shakespearean tragedy…should we all not fear how this will end? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Corruption Vs Balance Of Power

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Widely reported now in the media is this notion of a shadow government.


There is a difference between a true shadow government and the way our government is set up with two types of leadership.


– Career civil service are the regular public sector (government) employees. 


– Political appointees are the people installed upon a new President by the winning party, and they are the most powerful leaders and policymakers in the government. 


In  a sense, the “winner takes all” and the political appointees become the heads of all the executive branch agencies–viola, that is power!


The vast majority are people of the utmost integrity and deserving of our respect and gratitude for their leadership and what they do for our country. 


There are about 7,000 Senior Executive Service (SES) positions in the federal government, and about 90% are regular career civil service, and the remaining 10% are non-career political appointees. 


Aside from SES political appointees, there are another 3,000 other presidential and confidential (Schedule C) appointees (for a total of 4,000 presidential appointees running the government).


In a normal situation, this works just fine and civil service and politicals work hand-in-hand to advance the interests of this great nations. 


But when a nation becomes highly divided or an election looms and power is “up for grabs,” then the leadership can diverge over the issues and perhaps some may even resort to extreme measures. 


If you’re a political appointee (and maybe even one confirmed by the Senate), you still sort of by definition represent the interests of one party and their leadership over another–that’s the two party system. 


And if your civil service, while you may have your personal leanings, as a professional, you’re really there to do the best you can overall, that’s your job!


What happens if the run-of-the-mill career civil service leaders have a hypothetical clash with political appointee leaders (such as before an extremely divisive election)?  


Ah, that can be some of the worst of politics and bureaucracy!


On one hand, you could get told (i.e. ordered) to do one thing, but on the other hand, what if partisanship would be getting in the way of function? 


While most of the time, “more is better”–like with the 3 branches of government and a 2 party system that serve as healthy checks and balances–in this unique situation, 2 may be dysfunctional at best. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Divided We Fall

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Checks and balances in government is a great thing.

Our founding fathers were brillant in building it into the constitution to place limitations and constraints on unbridled power.

Yes, we the people…of the people, for the people, by the people.

But recent fighting in government has shown that it is lately more about–of the politicians, for the politicians, by the politicians.

Unfortunately, everyone seems to be fighting everyone–not only across the party aisle, but between state and the federal government, and between branches of the Federal government, itself.

How does this work (or should I say maybe not working up to its ideal)–let’s take an example:

Yesterday, the healthcare law passed by Congress more or less along party lines, and signed by the President, was upheld by the Supreme Court in a suit brought by 26 states, and is being promised or threatened (depending which side of the aisle you are coming from) to be repealed by the next administration

Ah, there you have it–everyone seemingly going against everyone else and fighting what is considered progress to one side, but is harmful from the other’s point of view.

Let’s try another one–also just from yesterday:

Attorney General Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress in the majority Republican, House of Representatives, with Nancy Pelosi, members of the Black Caucus, and other democrats walking out of the vote.  And this is to release papers on “Operation Fast and Furious” in the Justice Department (the Executive Branch) that resulted in the death of a border agent, Brian Terry of another Federal Department, Homeland Security, 11 miles from the Mexican border. But the papers were held under Presidential Executive Privilege from being released to a Congressional oversight committee. Now this turns to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to pursue or drop, but he is a Presidential Appointee that reports up to Attorney Holder, and could end up the courts to decide.

I can hardly catch my breath now, but a third one this week on immigration:

The Arizona law, with controversial provision SB 1070 that permits law enforcement to check immigration status, when there is reasonable suspicion, of people arrested or detained was ruled on by the Supreme Court, and this provision was upheld. But other provisions were struck down, such as it being a State crime to be an illegal immigrant or to hire one. One presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has called the law a “model for the nation,” while the current administration has felt otherwise.

Some would say this is the way it is supposed to work–this is the way we get issues worked through, grievances addressed and ensure fairness, equity, and that the right thing is being done.

But others may look at this and call it partisanship, ineffective, a waste or time and resources, one step forward and two steps back, a circuitous path to nowhere, a witch hunt or as Representative Alan Grayson said a “circus,” at times.

With huge threats facing our nation on virtually all fronts–from unemployment and the stagnant economy, to our national deficit, falling global competitiveness, ongoing threats of NCBR and cyber terrorism, not to mention natural disasters, chronic illnesses, human rights, poverty, pollution, and food and water shortages–we certainly have a lot to deal with.

The concern is that if we cannot work and move forward together with common resolve–as partners rather than competitors–to create genuine solutions rather than to bicker about who’s right, wrong, and to blame–then divided, we will fall.

We have a choice–unite and put the national and global commons above our own self-interests or yield to an uncertain and most frightening future.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Daniele Bora)