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Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Clowns to the left...

Ever get a song in your head, then you can’t get it out?  I have days like that.  One morning I can recall waking up and out of nowhere I started singing a variation of The Birthday Song. An obscure version that most have never heard and this sorry piece of lyric writing commands my attention for the better part of the morning.  I even passed the “curse” on to a few others.

So, the other day I’m watching the news and pondering my navel when I turn to my wife start singing the lyrics from the Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you

This morning I am reminded of that song once again.  I work from home, often finding myself, legs up on the coffee table, reclined on the chesterfield (that’s for my Canadian family), laptop whirling away as I program, with the national news on the television.  The mind is an amazing thing, I can be head-down writing code and I hear something totally outrageous being reported oinly to have it jerk me out of my programming moment to listen more intently.  This day was such a day.

It’s no secret that I am “done” with insider politics, today’s news beckons a national voter response.

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Congressional housing?

Congressional housing?

This morning while driving my wife to the train station I tuned-in a talk radio station with Glenn Beck ranting about congressional salaries. I listened as he express a bit of outrage over the fact our congressmen each get an annual salary just over $170k. The last increase of note came as an “automatic” pay increase. The only way this increase could be stopped would be by another congressional vote to repeal it. Thus, flying under the radar, in our tough times congressional representative are doing fine. I’m guessing the last discussion of pay increase came during the Bush years and everyone loved the idea of an automatic increase to avoid much fanfare about it all when the time came.

This got me to thinking about our early years as a country. Being a representative was not for the casual person. In fact, historians generally agree the business of running the government was meant for the wealthy, educated folks of the day. The few elected representatives from modest means were often discounted due to the curious class distinctions of the day.

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Walking in a smoke screen

Walking in a smoke screen

One of the definitions of the phrase “smoke screen” is : [noun] an action intended to conceal or confuse or obscure. In military terms it’s a way of preventing the other side from precisely seeing your movements in time to take action. I couldn’t find the exact origin of the phrase, but I discovered references to it that predate World War I.

In time of war we have to believe a smoke screen is a wonderful tool to reach an end goal. It’s used when few other options still exist and is, frankly, easily implemented. However, in regard to the creation of laws by politicians, the smoke screen tactic should be viewed as unethical. In our long political history as a nation we can find only a few examples of this practice prior to World War I. Perhaps it was the advent of modern communications that seduced law makers to use smoke screens to enact their agendas because in the light of a clear battle field their plans would be shot down.

I can cite a number of occasions that the smoke screen was used to enact laws that ended up being very unpopular once the smoke cleared. By then, the challenge to repeal a law was even more difficult.

The entire discussion of federal income tax is one such occasion. One side of the political aisle claimed it was a way to make the wealthy pay to help the poor, that the taxation would never be applied to the middle and lower class. In point of fact, federal income tax has never been fully ratified by two thirds majority of the states, yet, here we have it. The reality is that once adopted we all were required to pay taxes on our income. It took a bit of time to trickle down, but no one can deny this fact.

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