Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Few Things to Bug You

A Point of Reality about Violence in American Politics

In the wake of the tragic shooting of the Congresswoman in Arizona, I think it is time to pause for a minute and look at the reality of violence in American Politics. As heated and dirty as our politics can be it should be noted that American politics are, from a historical point of view, remarkably non-violent. In the 235 years since the Declaration of Independence there have only been 35 elected government officials killed while in office for political reasons in the United States. That number includes not only Congress Representatives and Senators but also Presidents, Governors and even County Supervisors. I ask you, how does that compare to our European cousins such as France, England or even Ireland?

The reason this shooting has drawn so much attention and media coverage is precisely because it is so very unusual. I think it is time for those on both sides of the political spectrum to stop and take a moment to be grateful for a system that allows for such heated debate on issues but whose participants rarely resort to actual violence. The finger pointing and the rush to pass restrictive laws is a common knee-jerk reaction, but it is an unnecessary waste of time and effort. It also usually results in prolonging and enflaming the problems rather than serving to solve them.


Modern times may not be quite as modern as we think. Here is an interesting story I ran across from our European cousins. In Romania, a labor law has been amended so that a number of professions including witches and astrologers have now fallen under “self-employed” and, as such, will now be taxed. As retribution, the witches plan on cursing the country’s leaders.

From BBC News:

Alisia, one of a dozen witches planning to hurl mandrake plants to bring ‘evil’ on Romania’s president and government, said her income was so small, the idea of taxing it was ‘foolish’.
‘The lawmakers don’t look at themselves, at how much they make, their tricks,’ she told the Associated Press news agency.
‘They steal and they come to us asking us to put spells on their enemies,’ she said.
Payments to witches and astrologers are usually made in cash and are relatively small at up to 30 lei (£6, 7 euros, $9) per consultation, AP reports.

Not all of the witches are angered at the new law. Some see it as a sign of legitimacy and recognition from the government. Meanwhile, there’s yet to be a big reaction of any kind from the other professions affected.

Poisonous mandrake plants are due to be hurled into the River Danube and queen witch Bratara Buzea has devised a spell involving cat dung and a dead dog. Income tax of 16% and health and pension payments have been imposed.

Really, though, the takeaway to all of this is that the Tea Party needs to step their game up. You don’t protest higher taxes with giant, peaceful events. That’s ridiculous. You need to get a dead dog and some special plants and go to town with the cursing.


Republicans Introduce Bill to Shut Down White House 'Czars'

Shown here are John Holdren, left, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Nancy-Ann DeParle, center, director of the White House Office of Health Reform; and Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Republicans have President Obama's "czars" in their crosshairs once again, introducing a bill this week that would effectively shut down their offices. The bill is a revamped version of a proposal that went nowhere in the last Congress, but with Republicans in charge of the House this year and a particularly combative Republican in charge of the committee that will be considering the measure, the proposal might have a fighting chance this time around. "We're hopeful for this one," Scalise spokesman Stephen Bell said.

Though the definition of a "czar" is muddy at best, it generally refers to top-level administration officials who don't have to go through the Senate confirmation process. The bill aims to be a bit more specific than that, defining a "czar" as the "head of any task force, council, policy office within the Executive Office of the President" or similar office, appointed "without the advice and consent of the Senate."

They estimate that 39 officials in the Obama administration fall under this description. The bill would order Congress to cut off all funding for them and the offices they control. Presumably, the president could afterward try to reinstate them by seeking Senate confirmation.

The bill, introduced on the first day of the session Wednesday, has so far attracted 28 other co-sponsors. The White House has not commented on the proposal.

Live Long and Prosper.....

No comments: