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‘Super Committee’ Failure: Super Gridlock In The Muppet Congress

In an age of super heroes and blockbuster movies glorifying those with extraordinary powers, we are left with the Muppets. And that may be doing a disservice to the Muppets.

Only 9 percent of the American people have a positive image of Congress—slightly higher than the percentage that view Fidel Castro favorably. Now that is scary.

Are these bad people? No. Do they not have the best interests of the American people at heart? I believe most do.

Is this all about two different philosophies of government? Certainly, that is a big part of the stalemate.

Unfortunately, most Americans now believe that there is more consensus, more cooperation, and more compromise—and maybe more maturity—on a nursery school play yard than in the U.S. Congress.

We can point to growing polarization, a lack of civility, people coming to Congress in ideological straight jackets, signing ridiculous pledges, being beholden to the more extreme elements of their political party.

But I would argue that American Democracy, at least for the moment, has transitioned into a parliamentary system, without the accountability. It is nearly impossible for Members of Congress to routinely cross party lines, at least on the most important votes. The pressure is great, the ideology has become increasingly rigid, and the politics of bucking your leadership is seriously problematic.

The current gridlock on our most difficult problems can’t be resolved by dissolving the government and holding new elections. It probably won’t be resolved next November. We will be faced, no matter who wins, with equal or greater intransigence from the opposition party.

And our voters will not have a chance to vote, as in a parliamentary system, for or against the party in power or the back benchers. Because our system now allows a minority to stifle the majority so easily in the Senate, through filibusters and holds, but allows the majority to dictate what is brought to the floor and voted on in the House, we are faced with paralysis.

Never before have I seen such a strong sense of a party-lock in Congress. Our recent history is one of moderates in the two parties holding swing votes, people crossing party lines on issues, and the ability to reach compromise when the country demands it.

Now, we exhibit all the markings of a parliamentary system but cannot extricate ourselves from the tendency toward permanent gridlock. Campaigns never end and self-preservation determines many members’ votes. The old approach of “working it out” is gone, at least temporarily, and there is no mechanism, even with the so-called super committee, to bust out of the hold that the system has on Congress.

The American people, after this latest breakdown, are watching as their savings and 401k’s are tanking. They are watching the blame game. They are watching Congress do very little to create jobs and improve their economic plight. For the moment, all they can do is throw up their hands. And the anger builds.

By: Peter Fenn, Opinion Writer, U. S. News and World Report, November 21, 2011

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Republicans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?: Bert and Ernie Getting Married Is a Dumb, Destructive Idea

Some people see politics everywhere,  even where they don’t belong.

Case in point a Chicago-area man who,  according to Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, has  started an online petition at a website called Change.org seeking to pressure  the people behind the landmark children’s program Sesame Street to “let Ernie & Bert get married.”

As a child—and as a parent—I  watched a lot of Sesame Street.  I’m a big fan of Bert & Ernie and their antics. I can still sing most of  the lyrics to “Rubber Duckie” and “Doin’ the Pigeon” from  memory. They are  funny, engaging characters who demonstrate to children  that people—no matter  how different they might be in temperament,  likes, dislikes and personalities—can still be the best of friends. But  they are also, as apparently has been  lost on some people, Muppets—a  combination marionette and foam rubber puppet  invented decades ago—by the legendary Jim Henson and his wife  Jane.  Muppets are not people, and while they are in many cases gender  specific they,  as the Sesame Workshop felt compelled to point out  Thursday, “Do not have a  sexual orientation.” Nonetheless someone out  there thinks they would be useful  to further a point about sexual  identity.

It’s an idea that’s foolish, and  moreover, culturally destructive  because, if enacted, it would further the end  of childhood innocence in  America. Children are already bombarded, in and out  of school, with  messages and meanings that, in my judgment, are far too  sophisticated  for them to comprehend. Instead, they just confuse and, in some  cases,  scare them—as was the case when, as the Boston Globe reported back in   2009, “an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the  psychiatric  unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.”

“He was refusing to drink water.  Worried about drought related to  climate change, the young man was convinced  that if he drank, millions  of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote  the case up as the  first known instance of climate change delusion,'” the  paper reported.

A 17-year-old man is far more mature  than the average viewer of Sesame    Street.  We have an obligation to protect innocents  and innocence and, in a  sense, childhood itself. Children are treasures,  precious gems that  are our future and should be treated as such, not as targets  for  indoctrination.

By: Peter Roff, U. S. News and World Report, August 12, 2011

August 12, 2011 Posted by | Ideologues, Ideology, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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