Sunday, October 18, 2009

Time to Support General McChrystal

There's something here I don't understand:

The Obama Administration says it can't really respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops until it decides what its policy should be for the war in Afghanistan. I don't understand that, because that's what the Administration did early this year. It started right after the Inauguration, reviewing and reworking our national policy in this area, deciding what the strategy and tactics should be. President Obama then appointed Gen McChrystal to carry out the new policy and strategy, and promised him the resources he needed to do that. McChrystal identified the additional resources needed to do his assigned job. His request letter was held up by the Pentagon, reportedly at the request of the White House which didn't want to deal with the request at that time. (There have also been reports that he was directed to reduce his request from what he originally wanted.) And now the Administration "needs" to do a new Afghanistan policy review, its second in less than a year, before deciding whether to give Gen McChrystal the support he was promised.

Actually, it's worse than that. In an interview released in September, Gen McChrystal acknowledged that, since he had taken command in Afghanistan, he had only had one short telephone conversation with President Obama. Shortly after that, at a Pentagon-approved event in London, McChrystal was asked if he supported a shift to a strategy supported by Vice President Biden that relies more on drones and less on foot soldiers. "The short answer is: No." was his response. He said "Chaos-istan" would be the result of that strategy. That apparently shocked and angered presidential advisors. And so, as a result,

The next day he was summoned to an awkward 25-minute face-to-face meeting on board Air Force One on the tarmac in Copenhagen, where the president had arrived to tout Chicago's unsuccessful Olympic bid.
It would be better if there were more promises kept, and less dithering by the White House.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time for a Lawsuit

It appears our lawmakers are now routinely derelict in their duties, and violating their oaths of office. Some of it is not their fault. They are not being given the chance to consider the provisions and consequences of bills they are being asked to vote on. Essentially, the Congressional leadership is putting them in an untenable position.

We need a class action lawsuit. It should assert, at a minimum, that any vote to report a bill out of a committee or to pass a bill from either the House or the Senate is invalid if the legislators have not had the opportunity to read and evaluate the actual legislative language of the bill at issue before voting on it.

“Conceptual languate” doesn't cut it. The actual legislative language often violates the conceptual language it supposedly implements. And the budgetary effect of actual legislative language is often radically different from that of its “conceptual language”.

Here's the bottom line: If the legislators have not had the opportunity to read and analyze the actual legislative language of the bill, no vote by the legislators can be legitimate.

Yes, I'd like to be able to push the idea that legislative bodies should be required to post the actual language of bills for public comment before a vote can be taken, but I don't think that can be done this way. That would require some actual legitimacy of the legislative leadership. Without that legitimacy, the most we can ask the courts to enforce is that our legislators have the opportunity to evaluate bills they are asked to vote on.

We may not be able to enforce their reading and evaluating bills' language, but we should be able to enforce their not being prevented from performing their Constitutional duties. No matter what, simply trusting the legislative leadership is not enough.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Polka Dotted Sky

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta opened yesterday, bringing hot air balloons to New Mexico from all over the world. The famed Albuquerque Box, which may be unique in the world, was in effect.

This picture from a past Balloon Fiesta shows what yesterday looked like.

The Balloon Fiesta began in 1972. But my favorite question about it is timeless:

Do you have to be Catholic to attend the Mass Ascension?