Government By the People? by James Stuckey

I’ve been trying to be thoughtful about a number of things that have been happening in rapid succession at all levels of government, but particularly at the federal level.  Let’s make a list:

  • After a horrendous start to Obamacare, the President unilaterally changes many of the legislation’s rules, to deflect the groundswell of anger and frustration expressed by large numbers of Americans across demographics and geography.  It’s unclear whether he has the authority to do so without legislation.  Notwithstanding these changes, over 5 million Americans who have had their insurance cancelled will likely not be able to get the policies they had and wanted back.
  • The President and his ally’s have tried a number of strategies on how to deal with the outcry.  First, the President tries to redefine what he said over thirty times about being able to, “keep your health care, period.”  Next, he does a soft Mea Culpa in a one on one interview with NBC.  Then, he’s pressured into doing a more extensive, apologetic, “I own this” one hour press conference, in which he deflects the “you can keep it” decision to insurance companies and state insurance commissioners.  He leaves them six weeks to rectify his broken promise; amusing, in that his administration could not get it right in three years after spending $600 million of our tax money.  I spent about $300 to set up my website with GoDaddy, and it has not crashed once.  I accept credit card and PayPal payments on my site, set up multiple email addresses, and allow people to comment and communicate with me.  I realize I don’t have the web traffic as Healthcare.gov  (I wish), but I spent $300.00.  I did it myself, and I am far from a website expert!  
  • Now, the President unilaterally delays a notification period on how Obamacare will affect close to two hundred Americans until after next year’s mid-term election. He and his administration know that if they didn’t, it would likely result in a routing of the democrats in both Houses of Congress.
  • It appears, however, that Americans can’t be fooled.  Only 37% approve of his job performance; close to 55% now state they don’t trust him; and, about 65% believe he lied about Obamacare.

Now, lets move on some other areas.

  • Harry Reid and the Democratic Congress stage an unprecedented power grab, instituting the so called “nuclear option” that would allow them to appoint judges with a simple majority vote.  Likely, they will extend this to other appointment and legislative matters in the future.  Virtually everyone of these democrats – Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Schumer, etc. – condemned this procedural maneuver when the Republicans controlled the Senate.  In a perverse way, this may come back to bite them, in that red state democrats will now have to vote on uber-liberal ideas and show their true colors to their constituents.
  • Having already completely screwed up on earlier foreign policy concerns in Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan, the President enters into a mind boggling “agreement with Iran”.  The negotiations produce nothing for America except what will probably be a huge security risk in the future.  In the process, we jeopardized a sacred bond with Israel, and with the few moderate Arab states in the mid-east, all of whom know the incidiousness of Iran far better than we.

In the early 1990’s, I spent a lot of time in Russia when the former Soviet Union was falling apart.  For years, there was no rule of law.  Yeltsin, the Russian President would issue decrees. The Russian Parliament would issue decrees.  The break-away former Soviet States would issue decrees.  The monetary system collapsed.  Nuclear material disappeared.  There was no rule of law.  With our President taking unilateral “executive” actions, and Harry Reid and the Senate making unilateral “nuclear” decisions, I’m feeling a creepy feeling reminiscent of what I saw during thwild west break-up of the Soviet Union.  We are starting to lose the very basis and foundation of our country.  I hate to say this: this is not class warfare as some preach, it is warfare on the classes.

© James Stuckey

The Violence in Egypt

I once worked with someone who told me that the best thing that happened to the Arab countries in the middle east was the creation of Israel.  Although the Jewish people and Israel have a history that spans thousands of years, the person was referring to the State of Israel that was created in 1948 shortly after World War II.  Even though Jews and Arabs lived for centuries together, my former associate postulated that Arabs of all ethnicities banded together in 1948 against a common enemy – Israel.  While there have been longstanding antagonisms between the Arabs and Israelis, Arab ethnicities have seen 25% of the armed conflicts of the world since 1945 amongst themselves (even though they only make up 8% of the world’s population), according to a 1996 UNESCO study by Saad Eddin Ibrahim.  The study, which is 17 years old, claimed that over 16 million Arabs lost their lives between 1945 and 1996 as a result if these conflicts.  These numbers have obviously grown since 1996.  In the current Syrian civil war, we know that more than 100,000 people have been killed.

Indeed, Brett Stephens who writes for the Wall Street Journal, stated in a June 3, 2013 column that we are witnessing a Muslim Civil War.  In his piece, he states that “Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the prominent Sunni cleric, said Friday that Hezbollah and Iran are ‘more infidel than Jews and Christians.’ Coming from the guy who once lauded Hitler for exacting ‘divine punishment’ on the Jews, that really is saying something.” 

And now we are once again witnessing a barbaric slaughtering of people in Egypt.  As a Catholic, I found it repulsive to read of the atrocities committed by the the Muslim Brotherhood against Coptic Christians.  I found it even more disgusting that President Obama, who I now refer to as Professor Obama (all he ever does is orate about what “should be” from behind, as opposed to implementing policy as a leader a priori), essentially sat on the sidelines once again as this situation spiraled out of control.  While there are cogent arguments that can be made on both sides for what America’s position should be in the current conflict, one thing is for sure – we should have had a policy and acted on it.

But that’s not the reason for this blog post.  The violence in this part of the world just begets more violence.  If I lived in Syria, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, or Iran, and, I witnessed my child, wife or parent murdered, I too would be filled with hate and fury and want to retaliate against those who committed the crime.  The problem is that my hypothetical retaliation would only escalate the violence further, and this would just lead to a never ending spiral of innocent, fragile and God created people being destroyed.  No good can come from this – ever.  I know that every side has a story, and that there is probably some truth in all sides.  But, no side can win in this conflict.

There are fundamentalists in all religions, and they are self-righteous and un-accepting of all but those who share their beliefs.  Fundamentalism is myopic; it makes no allowance for different points of view.  Fundamentalists of all faiths are most often those who commit terrorist acts.  While it’s easy to talk about the wars in Syria or Egypt, we should really be focusing on the tyrants, dictators and fundamentalists behind these conflicts and not generalize to the people of these nations.

© August 15, 2013 James Stuckey