The current U.S. Senate atrocity involves a letter released on Monday, March 9, 2015 from Senate Republicans to Iran’s government (the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran”), saying that any agreement made by President Obama amounts to a “mere executive agreement” goes well beyond the arena of conduct which disregards the laws of our nation.

I believe a significant number of mostly Republican elected officials in Congress are guilty of depriving the people of the United States the intangible right of their honest services, for at least the past 5 consecutive years.

That is a domestic issue, and it is described in Federal Law as ‘Honest Services Fraud’ (see 18 U.S.C. § 1346).

It seems pretty clear that some of these boys elected to the U.S. Senate just can’t resist acting like 3rd graders let loose on the playground with no supervision.

These boys have now pushed into a new and dangerous place. Whether they are guilty of Treason, as some have suggested, is really not the point.

At minimum, they are guilty of acting like narcissistic brats, and their behavior casts a dark shadow over an institution with a proud 250 year history.

This act of cowardice and ignorance engaged in by 47 elected officials in the U.S. Senate ought to be a wake-up call to all Americans that we have a major problem in Washington, D.C. and that our problem is not at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This letter was signed by 47 of 54 Senate Republicans, and was authored by Freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave it his approval and signed the letter. Among the Senators who also signed the letter are Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) all of whom are considering running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

In their letter, they wrote, “It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution – the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices – which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress…. Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.”

They also reminded Iran that “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

The letter – and the 47 Republican Senators – faced an immediate negative reaction from the White House; President Obama; Vice President Joe Biden; Senate Democratic leadership; Congressional and Senate Democrats; and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; as well as many more.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the letter finding it either (a) undermining the president’s authority; or (b) counterproductive.

Among other things, Zarif said, “This kind of letter is unprecedented and undiplomatic. In truth, it told us that we cannot trust the United States.”

Alabama freshmen Senator Tom Cotton has become a center of attention, facing both criticism and accolades, and he has been the key defender of the letter’s message. Many media sources have fixated on Cotton and the other Senators who signed the letter, led by the New York Daily News headline on March 10, “TRAITORS”.

Even Fox News (Megyn Kelly) was critical of this apparent publicity stunt: “What’s the point in writing to the Iranian mullahs? What are you going to do? They dismissed it already like ‘pfff, whatever’. And you’ve offended the Obama administration. And you may have offended some of the Democrats who would have come over with the Republicans, if depending on what happens with this deal, to have a stronger say in the Senate.”

Not to dismiss some incremental support from the Right: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry have expressed their support for the letter.

Among the seven Republican senators who did not sign the letter, several have commented that, ‘they did not find it appropriate, helpful or productive.’

While it seems likely that 46 of the 47 Republican elected officials are now questioning their decision to sign the letter, Tom Cotton himself is probably saying, “That worked out great!”

Overnight, Tom Cotton has risen from an unknown and obscure Alabama Senator to a household name!

Tom Cotton has demonstrated that a U.S. Senator who’s been in office just a few months can accomplish a great deal, with a little initiative and creativity.

Much like the boy who shouted “FIRE” in the crowded movie theater, Cotton may have caused a major panic. In this case, the resulting impact includes: irreparable damage to the reputation of the U.S. Senate; to the Republican Party; and to the security of the United States.

But, to the Tea Party base from which Cotton draws his support, he is now a hero. The more criticism he gets, the more convinced they become of his heroism.

The Koch Brothers must be mighty proud!

Walrus Feeling Guilty

October 4, 2013

With all of the attention on the shenanigans in Washington and the in-depth moment by moment reporting, I thought the Walrus might sit this one out, but various forces have caused guilt.

Congress certainly has the authority to challenge the Affordable Care Act. Why don’t they just challenge the ACA in Court? Why are they messing with the greatest economy in the World?

Oh, wait. They did challenge it in court. In the Supreme Court. The highest court in the land. On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion upholding the constitutionality of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” finding that the federal government can require people to purchase affordable health care insurance coverage or face an income tax penalty.

So, we have a law which was approved by the House of Representatives, approved by the U.S. Senate, approved by the President of the U.S. and affirmed by the Supreme Court.

But, wait! We also have a splinter group of dubiously elected officials (i.e. the Ayatollah John Boehner, Cruz Control, Private Ryan, Eric “T.P.” Cantor – and others who shall remain anonymous for now).

These creatures have determined (in September 2013) that the only appropriate way for the Congress to arrive at a Continuing Budget Resolution which would keep our federal government running is to open a debate on a law which was enacted in 2010?

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are many times I wish that I could just put all of the clocks and calendars around the world on pause. Just give me a few days to catch up on all of the loose ends, and then I would restart the clocks and calendars as though those few days I had to myself were invisible and inconsequential. Sort of like a short “working vacation” in the Twilight Zone.

Boehner and his Band of Merry Men apparently have gone beyond the Twilight Zone and have jumped all the way down the rabbit hole, desperately trying to drag the rest of the country with them.

I have to wonder – how does the Supreme Court feel about this behavior?

Headline: Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Vice President Dick Cheney call Benghazi a cover-up

If you’re going to put people at risk, you have to try to protect them,’ says Rumsfeld.

They lied,’ says Cheney.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/donald-rumsfeld-dick-cheney-call-benghazi-cover-up-article-1.1343594

This is solid stuff.

Cheney and Rumsfeld are world-class experts in lies, cover-ups and deception, so they must not be trifled with.

Although the investigations into the false claims around WMD (which led to to the war in Iraq and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, and have cost some $3.7 Trillion and well in excess of 200,000 lives) have not yet started, it certainly makes sense to paralyze the U.S. government with multiple, continued and fruitless Benghazi investigations.

Thanks, Dick, for being you!

Some of us who survived the Vietnam tragedy (either by serving and returning or by another means) viewed U.S. involvement in the various Middle East wars as tragedy of epic proportions.

During the most recent Reign of Terror (Bush-Cheney) — just 9 months into his Presidency, Bushy – using the slogan “War on Terror” — got us into a religious war in the Middle East through a combination of lies, subterfuge and self-dealing financial benefit contracts.

About 6,700 Americans have died in those two wars, as have about 1,400 allied personnel, Canadians prominent among them.

That is a dreadfully huge number. The roster of the slain would have stretched even longer, but for the amazing advances in military armor and military medicine over the past generation.

More than 50,000 Americans have been wounded in battle since 9/11 — 16,000 of them so seriously that they would certainly have died had they suffered an equivalent wound in any prior conflict.

So, in addition to the huge loss of life and human potential among our young adults who were called to serve in this senseless and stupid war(s), we have the diversion of taxpayer dollars into an abyss; the incredible human and financial costs of caring for wounded warriors who battled in vain; and the continued high terror threats to the U.S. due to religious zealots who – for the next 7 generations, or so – will equate the entire U.S. to the terrible decisions and evil intentions of the Bush-Cheney Reign of Terror Regime.

When Bill Clinton had a momentary loss of judgment and allowed an over-zealous female intern to get under his desk, Congress pounced and after spending countless millions and wasting scarce federal resources, came very close to impeachment.

The Bush-Cheney Reign of Terror Regime created a false and fully egregious story which led to the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) on October 7, 2001, followed by a further fairy tale which opened up Operation Iraqi Freedom, beginning with the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

In the dozen years since, the U.S. — and the world — has seen zero benefit, plenty of costs.

I’ve heard no call for impeachment, no accusations of impropriety.

When will we draw the line and hold these domestic terrorists – Bush & Cheney – accountable for their evil deeds?

Wizard of Oz & Sequestration

February 23, 2013

For the first 210 +/- years of our 2-party Democracy, we were blessed to have elected officials who were statesmen and who seemed to place the public good before their own personal agendas.

Since the birth of Americans for Tax Reform under the leadership of Grover Norquist – and subsequently the rise of ‘Tea Party’ backed candidates — we’ve witnessed a series of national dramas which seem to accomplish nothing, but waste scarce resources and divert our elected leaders from doing the job we elected them to do.

The only honest and sustainable way to reduce taxes is to re-engineer and reform government, and that requires a great deal of analysis, planning and making tough decisions.

It seems that some of our elected officials just don’t want to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work; then make the tough decisions which are supported by careful analysis and research.

We just can’t let a farmer from rural Ohio continue to hold our country hostage because of some wealthy campaign contributor(s) he is beholden to.

That’s not a Democracy: it is a ‘Wizard of Oz’ Dictatorship.

And that’s wrong, terribly wrong.

http://www.dccc.org/page/s/sequester-ja?source=fb_auto_share_sequester_ja

 

On December 14, 2012, one individual — who apparently obtained by force several semi-automatic firearms from a family member — shot and killed 26 innocent victims at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT. 

The firearms included one rifle – the controversial .223 caliber Bushmaster AR-15 — which by several definitions has been categorized as an assault weapon. 

The other semi-automatic weapons were hand guns – one was a 10 mm Glock which can accommodate a 15 round magazine. The other was a Sig Sauer 9 mm, which can accommodate a maximum capacity of 20 bullets.

 Following this tragic event, a nearby regional newspaper – The Journal News — filed a freedom of information act (FOIA) request with Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties in NYS seeking the names and addresses of pistol permit holders in these counties.

 By New York State law, the name and address of individual permit holders licensed to own a handgun — a pistol or revolver – is public record.

 Owners of ‘long guns’ — rifles or shotguns which can be purchased without a permit — are not subject to public record disclosure.

 I just listened to a radio interview with NYS Senator Gregory Ball on the controversial ‘outing’ of the names and addresses of hand gun permit holders by The Journal News.

 In the interview, Senator Ball was adamant in his opposition to releasing information (which is required under NYS law) based on his personal values and opinions.

 Senator Ball has held elected office in New York State since 2007. Several times, he has taken an oath of office to “…support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York…”

 The Journal News published names and addresses of hand gun permit holders from public record information obtained from Rockland and Westchester counties, which is both legal and appropriate in New York State.

 Officials in Putnam County have refused to release the gun permit information to The Journal News.

 Senator Ball has joined with other elected and appointed public officials in Putnam County to oppose the FOIA request from The Journal News.

 This FOIA request seems to follow the laws of the State of New York; thus is fully in compliance with the Constitution of the State of New York.

 It is my belief that NYS Senator Gregory Ball has violated his oath of office and thus should be sanctioned and removed from public office and further subject to any civil or criminal penalties which are available and appropriate for elected officials in New York State who flagrantly and blatantly violate their oath of office.

 It is time for honest and productive discussion about firearms in New York State and across the U.S.

A Letter to Hon. John Boehner

December 28, 2012

Hon. John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Boehner:

I’ve been following the saga of ‘the fiscal cliff’ since the end of summer 2012.

It was made very clear to us outside the Beltway (commonly known as citizens, voters and taxpayers) that our elected officials in Congress would take no action until after the November elections.

As disappointing as that news was, it seemed reasonable and appropriate to many of us on the outside to expect that our elected officials would do some talking behind the scenes in preparation for a call to action after the election at which time our elected officials would work together in the best interest of the overall U.S. economy — business, commerce, education and the citizens of the United States.

Now – several months later and just a few days from the ‘tipping point’ a.k.a the ‘fiscal cliff’– we seem to have a continuation of the petty, partisan and puerile drama that has come to categorize our Congress following the national elections of 2010.

November 2010 marked the point in time when a number of conservative tea party candidates were elected to the House of Representatives. The infusion of passionate but neophyte tea party representatives — all of whom signed the Grover Norquist Pledge — precipitated your election as Speaker in January 2011, which coincidently seems to mark the beginning of extreme dysfunction in our nation’s capital.

I have listened to you and some of the ‘young rascals’ who were elected in 2010 under the tea party platform.

When I listen, I hear some really great sound bites, focused almost entirely on the federal government.

There is no one I’ve met who wouldn’t like to see smaller government and reduced government spending — sweetened by the magic elixir of reduced taxes.

The real problem seems to be: Government (as we see and interact with it from outside the Beltway) includes federal, state, county, local, schools and a vast number of entities which operate in the public sector as ‘quasi-government’ agencies.

As a citizen, voter and taxpayer in the U.S., I know I pay: federal income taxes; federal excise taxes; state income taxes; state sales taxes; county property taxes; county sales taxes; city property taxes; city sales taxes; city sewer taxes; city library taxes; and property taxes levied by my local school district. I can quantify the majority of those taxes: what I can’t quantify is the amount of other government and quasi-government fees and taxes I pay daily, weekly monthly or annually: highway and bridge tolls, parking fees, hotel occupancy fees, motor vehicle fees, MTA fees, license fees, daily use fees, and park access fees, most of which are invisible to me.

You and the ‘young rascals’ have some great rhetoric: What I don’t hear from you and your tea party cabal is dialogue, discussion, research or new ideas about re-engineering our overall government in the U.S. for enhanced efficiency and longer term sustainability.

Mr. Boehner: With your intractable and rigid focus on cutting spending at the margins and continued tax breaks for the ultra-rich, I think you and your tea party followers may be threatening the very essence of the United States and our economy as a going concern.

That thought leads me to believe that you and some (or all) of your tea party cabal may be guilty of treason because your actions are diametrically opposed to the best interests of my fellow citizens, voters and taxpayer of the United States of America.

It is my hope, Mr. Boehner, that come Monday, December 31, 2012, you and your followers will move away from treason to align with the majority of American citizens, businesses and American society to ensure a rational, sensible and sustainable solution to the ‘fiscal cliff’ dilemma which currently threatens our country.

Thank you in advance for considering my opinions, and hopefully, for adjusting your posture to a more inclusive and mainstream position.

Sincerly,

The Walrus
Mount Vernon, NY 10552