Tag Archives: House

Politics As Usual

I actually do try not to pick sides as the brouhaha in Washington, DC continues.

Remember that very old riddle?

Q: How can you tell when politicians are lying?
A: Their lips are moving.

I’m old enough to have watched (and, believe it or not, still remember) the Watergate hearings. That was when Earl Landgrebe (R, Indiana) said: “Don’t confuse me with the facts. I’ve got a closed mind. I will not vote for impeachment. I’m going to stick with my president even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.”

Try to imagine the members of Congress as scientists debating a mathematical theorem.

“2 + 2 = 5, and don’t try to convince me otherwise!”

“No, it’s 6 and your mother wears combat boots!”*

Never mind, it takes more imagination than I can muster.

 

* Actually, not at all unusual these days–Ladies, thank you for your service.

Who’s In Charge?

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Today’s world is unsettled and unsettling. Sometimes we have an unrealistic expectation as to how life should be.

First off, war is a terrible thing. It is not like the video games or movies. It hurts. It kills. There is no such thing as a surgical strike. You can’t shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand. Smart bombs may be better at hitting their target, but innocent men, women and children are still going to die. War is making things so terrible that the other side will do absolutely anything to make it stop.

Second, intelligence is an equally nasty business. The way to find out what the bad guys are doing is to make a deal with some of the bad guys. This may mean paying them, or blackmailing them. It means the “good guys” must stoop to their level, no matter how slimy. You don’t learn anything talking to respectable people.

If the intelligence is good enough, it may be possible to avoid or shorten a war. To save lives. To stop destruction. If you know the bad guys up close and personal, doing this only makes sense, even to the point of doing things that other people might not do.

Which is worse, to spy on everybody or let terrorists kill another 3,000 innocent people? It’s a difficult question.

We select people to oversee and control such complicated issues. The Constitution give Congress the power and responsibility to raise an army and to declare war.

The House and Senate committees on intelligence are responsible for oversight of intelligence practices. Members of Congress are not required to have security clearances, so the key committees have broad access to whatever information they need. This is so they can make good decisions on complicated issues. The expectation is that we trust them and they in turn act in our best interests.

I’m not postulating an opinion, merely explaining how the process works.

This is one of the many reasons that we, as citizens, have such an important responsibility as well as a duty to elect people we trust. When you hear all the negative campaign rhetoric, keep that in mind.