Insight. Antics.

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

A Senator Writes To Me.

In Politics on February 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm

There’s not an election or primary ’round these parts for months yet. So imagine my surprise last weekend upon checking the mail and seeing an envelope from one of my Senators here in the Empire State, Kirsten Gillibrand (D). I had grown unused to receiving political mail, least of all from someone other than Michael Bloomberg, who strafed my mailbox last fall with so many direct mail pieces that he became the #1 cause of deforestation in all five boroughs, despite PlaNYC.

I opened the letter from the Senator. I’ve scanned it in above.  I think I was most enticed to write about this because I’ve always wanted to redact something. It was damned fun. Now I know why Dick Cheney loves it so much.

I began to read the letter. You’re welcome to do the same as I pick it apart. (I won’t go through every line.)

First of all, it’s dated late January and I received it in late February. Major lag time. Poor form, Gilly and staff. The post office isn’t as fast as email, but it’s also not as slow as a freighter shipping acrylic Banana Republic scarves from China.

Getting into the text, I was not entirely sure what the letter was in regards to. Clearly, it relates to U.S. foreign assistance, something I care about. Nonetheless it does not expressly state what prompted this response.

I deduced that it’s a response to a petition I “click-signed” in association with the ONE Campaign, Bono’s fan club. Oh, I meant to say a non-partisan organization committed to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease like AIDS and malaria in Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

What About Congress Day?

In Government, Politics on February 16, 2010 at 3:47 am

Yesterday was Presidents’ Day. A nice day off for most, a long weekend retreat for many others. The Prez himself took the day off. As I considered the holiday, it occurred to me that at its most basic level, it’s a celebration of the service and accomplishments of only one branch of our system of government. What gives?

Well, first of all, I’m wrong. As implemented in 1880, federally, the holiday is officially called Washington’s Birthday, although ironically with later modifications to assure it falls on the third Monday of February, it will always be between the 15th and 21st. Old Boy George’s birthday is on the 22nd. (In researching this I also learned that the Iroquois not so fondly nicknamed him “Town Destroyer” in the French and Indian War.)

While the holiday was solely intended to celebrate Washington’s leadership and role as “Father of our country,” that has not become its popular interpretation. Most state and local governments (not to mention Raymour & Flanigan) favor Presidents’ Day and celebrate more broadly the Office of the Presidency and the men who have held the title. That sounded fine to me at first. After all, as Mel Gibson says to James Coburn in Payback, “One man… you go high enough you always come to one man.”

Then I thought… what about the other branches? This feels like a checks and balances issue. The president already has the nicest mixed-use facility in the world to live and work out of, extensive media coverage, and the best-trained armed guards in the history of the world at his side for the rest of his life. Plus the buck stops with him! The Executive Branch is the easiest to understand! One person handles all the stuff.

Why should he (or she, someday) get a holiday but the Legislative Branch get shafted? Where’s my Congress Day? The two houses of Congress deliberate all year but get no recognition.  It’s profoundly challenging to argue incessantly for that long and get nothing done. They deserve to be honored. Congress has a stutteringly abysmal approval rating, averaging about 20%, and measuring as low as 15% in some samples. Even Sarah Palin has higher numbers, and friends, that is saying something. Read the rest of this entry »