Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reserving the Right to Arm Bears

So the House and Senate have moved a bill through that makes credit card companies a little less like Captain Jack Sparrow, and a little more like the British East India Trading Company, i.e., they have to put in writing how they're going to rip you off and when, and they can't rip you off quite as much. Can't be so punitive with higher interest rates on late payers (never made sense to me - yes, they're more of a risk, but now they've become even MORE of a risk; how does that help?), have to use plain english in the small print they put into those endless contracts, etc. Vast improvement, while not quite weaning America off her great need to be in debt up to her follicles.

And then there's the gun amendment. Wait, what?

That's right, the gun amendment. One of the beauties of parliamentary procedure is the ability to add amendments to bills that have nothing whatsoever to do with the legislation at hand. Want to make a bill go down in flames? Add something to it that no one wants.

Like a "George W Bush National Monument in Baghdad" amendment. (just made that up - don't worry)

So, good old Sen. Tom Coburn (R - OK) decided that giving consumers better protection from obscure and/or just plain mean credit card policies wasn't enough; he felt it was necessary to protect the rights of the individual to carry loaded weapons into National Parks, including shotguns, rifles, or assault weapons. Going on a climb in Yosemite? Make sure you've got your Barrett 82A1, because you never know when you're going to need a .50 Cal. sniper rifle that can hit a target at two miles out - can you imagine all the stuff you could hit from the top of El Capitan?

Please, write your Senators and Congresscritters and make them strip this amendment off.

Or, as one of my cow-orkers has suggested, if this DOES come to pass, and CITI is having one of their annual meetings in Yellowstone - bring an Armalite AR-15, and express your opinion.*

*The Odd Bald Liberal does NOT advocate the use of violence to solve problems. But it would be fun to scare the snot out of 'em.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Whither Responsibility?

Nancy Pelosi may or may not have been properly briefed by the CIA on the question or the possibility or the actuality of torture being used/not being used on detainees at Guantanamo/Bagram/Abu Ghraib.

And the Right says, "well, she okayed torture, therefore she is responsible for the torture."

I leave it to you to fill in the blank: ______ed logic.

Ya see, it's the guys in charge, like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol who decided whether or not we should be using torture. Then they tell the CIA to do so. The CIA is then told they have to brief Congress about it, but not that they have to be completely truthful (yes, that's called speculation). So, the CIA swears a few Senators and Congresscritters to absolute silence, tells them either faulty or slightly incomplete information, and one of the Congresscritters writes a letter of protest (since he can't actually, you know, talk about any of it to anyone) to the folks higher on the food chain (Cheney), and SURPRISE! nothing changes.

Here we are, years later, declassifying memos, and hiding photos (Mr. Obama, I believe you misplaced your government transparency special power), and people start talking about who knew what when, rather than who ordered what, and then told everyone lies about it. Or not.

Torture is torture, and no matter who knew about it while it was happening, the more important question is who ordered it, and when will they be punished?

I'm not absolving Nancy of any responsibility. If she knew about this and did/said nothing, then she needs to be replaced by someone who will stand up to whomever is president, should that person do something so inherently illegal and (more importantly) immoral. Her fumbling press conference was embarrassing enough without her having criminal knowledge. Hint: it's called "preparation," Nancy.