Spider Man D.C.

This so reminded me of…

Spider Man, Spider Man, Does Whatever A Spider Can.


Veterans Day must be a great day to get your windows washed. 


Or to spin a web of intricate proportions in D.C. politics. 


Either way aside from the windows, what of significance is actually getting resolved in our partisan capital?


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Corruption Vs Balance Of Power

faces

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)

Politicized Justice

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DC is in partisanship chaos once again, but this time it’s our very justice system at the heart of it. 


There is widely publicized internal fighting at the FBI and Department of Justice over whether and how far to investigate, let alone ever prosecute, emails and foundation issues from a presidential candidate. 


As the FBI can only investigate, they have no jurisdiction over whether prosecutors are willing to then take the case forward. 


Downtown today, there were signs that said:


“I Need Some Good News.com”


This was referencing the new soundtrack of “Good News” by Ocean Park Standoff, but it could easily summarize the standoff between the FBI and Justice Department and the political parties lining up behind them. 

So there is certainly the need for some good news, as a dour mood settles over the capital and the people around the nation watching this play out so awfully, where politics have gotten in between us and our candidates and doing what’s right. 


From the song:


“I need some good news baby ’cause the world’s gone crazy.”


When even our law enforcement authorities can no longer function without impediment, and when there is no core impunity from political infringement and recriminations, we know even our most basic system of justice has gone awry with political dysfunction. 


Yes, it’s crazy and it’s definitely not good news for the progress and righteousness of this great nation. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Difference Between Art and Politics

Rainbow Clouds.jpeg

There is a difference between art and politics. 

Art is just brilliant and beautiful. 

But politics can be insane and ugly.

(Well maybe some art actually can be that way too.)

Read today how Congressional Bills are being held up for something as fundamental as funding to fight the Zika virus that causes severe infant brain defects and life-altering disabilities. Moreover, if Congress did pass it as-is, the President has threatened to veto it!

Another no-brainer bill still not passed before Summer recess is the common sense one that would tighten access on gun sales to suspected terrorists and call for expanded background checks, including for private sales and at gun shows. 

As amazing for the soul as art is, politics gone wrong can be damaging to the very people they are supposed to be protecting for national security and health and well-being.  

This is a system that is either broken or have people leading it that are horribly flawed, but either way the nation’s people are being hurt, when they should be properly taken care of and governed. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Obstruction Or Progress At Last

Obstruction
We all hate people who are obstructionist to what we consider progress.



The problem is not everyone defines progress the same way.



Progress to one may be hugely regressive to someone else.



So when 47 senators sent a cautionary letter to Iran’s leadership this week about making a deal on nukes, which perhaps comes down to less now for more later…



– Some called it obstructionist to the negotiations and even a potential violation of the Logan Act.



– While others saw it as progress in bringing us back from the brink of a dangerous and (very) bad deal involving legitimizing weapons of mass destruction for a dangerous regime to all.



Two partisan sides to every story…and each side capitalizes on theirs.  



“That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”



But history inevitably tells the true story (or closer to it) based on the outcomes of action or inaction (aka acts of commission and omission).



With the tornado of spin from the pundits on news, news, and more news, someone reminded me of the adage:



“Liar, liar pants on fire” 



or 



“Don’t believe everything you hear, and only half of what you see.” 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Big Bike, Little Bell

This photo that I took stuck in my mind for Independence Day tomorrow.

We are a great nation of 50 states founded in freedom, ruled by democracy, and driven by human rights for everyone.

Yet in many ways, we have been squandering our national strengths:

– Spending it forward (living as a nation in debt) and creating yet another bubble economy driven by low interest rates (hence another Dow record today of over 17000) with still the lowest workforce participation in over 36 years and 92 million Americans not working!

– Stretching our military muscle in over 10 years of hapless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now we are war weary and in proverbial retreat across the Middle East, in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, and with Iran and North Korea).

– Partisan politics freezing our government with the Executive Branch saying they will go it alone on everything from immigration reform to fixing highways and Congress threatening to sue for various claims of abuse of power.

Like this Photo, this country is in danger of becoming a big bicycle with a lot of potential to move things forward, but with a very small bell barely audible with anything of significance to our citizens at home, let alone everyone else in the world.

We have the ability to continue our path of greatness in building our country’s economy, military, and social systems, as well as steering the world toward peace, prosperity, and freedom. However, to do this, we must be able to ring the bell of Independence loudly, with leadership, confidence, and a determination for genuine progress for a union greater than ever before.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Winning Respect Of The People

Winning Respect Of The People

Please see my new article here in Public CIO Magazine on how we can learn from the technology industry to improve our nation’s government.

“We can solve technological problems beyond our forefathers’ wildest dreams, but we’re challenged to break political gridlock. compromise, make difficult decisions, and forge a balanced, reasoned path forward.”

Hope you enjoy!

Andy

(Source Photo: the talented Michelle Blumenthal)

Government Shutdown – Rush Hour

Government Shutdown - Rush Hour

Today was Day #1 of the Federal Government Shutdown.

Pictured here is rush hour in Washington, D.C.

In terms of raising revenue to pay down our national debt, solve challenging problems facing our nation, or increase our global competitiveness–I am not sure how this gets us there.

With around 800,000 people sitting at home or in Starbucks waiting to be recalled to work, about the only good thing you can say about the furlough is that it was easy to get a seat on the Metro.

Sad, but true. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is This The Way It’s Supposed To Work?

Is This The Way It's Supposed To Work?

As talk and warnings escalate about a potential government shutdown next week (not that long since the last time this happened a couple of years ago), one cannot help wonder is this the way government is supposed to work?

The partisanship and fighting has gotten so that either nothing significant gets done or get’s done by just one party leaving the other fuming.

The fight over healthcare reform pushed through for better or for worse has come back to haunt the Hill. Aside from a lot of talk about exchanges, I haven’t found many people that even really understand the changes or whether it actually benefits them or not.

The continuing Fed stimulus that many anticipated was going to start tapering off, but hasn’t, has left many concerned whether there is another huge economic bubble building and what will happen to stocks, housing, and jobs when the Fed finally does pull back.

The Sequestration which was never supposed to actually take effect, but was to replaced with more surgical budget cuts, continues to leave the nation vulnerable in terms of potential budget shortfalls for areas of national priority (e.g. defense and so on) and still leaves a mounting national debt (albeit growing at a slower pace).

The seesaw between the threat of military intervention and the potential for diplomatic solutions with Syria and Iran on no less than weapons of mass destruction have us asking whether these countries are serious, stalling, and really willing to give them all up or just buy time in their efforts to get over the finish line of proliferation, hiding, and burying the stockpiles.

Somehow we seem to be fighting each other more than we are tackling the issues.

Are we really talking with each other, listening with intent to understand, and seeing what is at stake?

We are playing brinkmanship on critical issues of national security that may leave us holding the toilet paper and plunger as we swirl around the bowl ready for the royal flush. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Broom Flag

Broom_flag

This was a strange sight today…

A blue broom stuck in a flag pole holder from the second floor window of this building.

I wasn’t sure if this was someone just trying to be funny (probably)–and hopefully they meant no disrespect to our honorable stars and stripes.

However, this being Washington, D.C., I wondered whether this blue broom standing in the pole holder was more of a (subtle) message about it being time to:

1) Clean up waste, fraud, and abuse and do the right thing for our citizens and our nation.
2) Wipe away our national deficit and right our fiscal ship.
3) Address our environmental and sustainability issues leaving our water, air, and land in “broom clean” condition.
4) Sweep through and resolve our sizable and challenging national and global problems.
5) Brush under our differences and partisanship and instead, unite together as Americans for the cause of freedom and human rights.
6) All of the above

Maybe I am reading too much into a blue-brushed broom flying over the skyline, but I like the message anyway and hope you do too.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)