Eight Days

Did you hear or read about the President’s address on Syria in the Rose Garden yesterday? The President (emphasis added):

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.

…while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective. We should have this debate, because the issues are too big for business as usual.

…if we really do want to turn away from taking appropriate action in the face of such an unspeakable outrage, then we must acknowledge the costs of doing nothing… We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us… I wasn’t elected to avoid hard decisions. And neither were the members of the House and the Senate.

His own advisors were surprised, apparently, that the President chose to go to Congress. The political advisors worry that Congress won’t help, as they haven’t helped with anything, ever, and would cripple the rest of the Administration’s legislative agenda. The military advisors are pessimistic about international support improving given the (any?) outcome of a Congressional vote.

So if I’m reading this correctly, the President is demonstrating an overriding faith in:

  • himself (in being able to make the case to use and concretely define “limited, narrow” military action in Syria)
  • Congress (in being able to think about any world beyond their own re-election)
  • voters (in being able to pay attention, think, and make their opinions known to Congress)
  • the international community (in being able to forgive the United States for its past colossal f-ups).

He believes we can all come together under his leadership, and we can show the Syrian regime that they won’t get away with what they’ve done (and neither would, say, Iran, were it to try something similar, or worse).

I wrote earlier about why I supported then Senator Obama back when he was running for President. (Prudence. Caution.)

In requesting Congressional authority for military action in Syria, which is an attempt to demonstrate to the world (and to the United States) what the United States of America is, what it is supposed to be, is he rising to the majestic heights of “meeting physical force with soul force?”

Congress is back in session on September 9. Eight days.

taxing, vexing, stunning…

Among the now 43 percent (not 47 anymore) of households expected to pay no federal income tax in 2013 — most of whom are elderly and/or earning less than $20,000 a year — are 4,000 households who earn at least $549,374. Those folks likely pay foreign taxes, or earn tax-exempt bond interest.

By my very rough calculation, that’s at least $2.1 billion in income that is not being federally taxed. There are arguments to be made as to whether that’s fair… but fair or not, it sure is striking, don’t you think?

Check it out for yourself:

TPC Tax Topics | Who Doesn’t Pay Federal Taxes?.

Meanwhile, you know what else is valued at about $2 billion? Thanks to the Washington Post and some guy named Snowden, we learned today that the CIA allocates $2.3 billion (out of a total national “Black Budget” of $52.6 billion) for human intelligence operations. And that in the intelligence community, the most commonly spoken foreign language is… Spanish. Followed by Arabic. Farsi doesn’t make the top list–it’s the main language of Iran and Afghanistan.

You can check out the Black Budget for yourself, too.

The way we choose to collect revenue, the way we spend it… It can stun a girl.

But I’d rather be stunned than in the dark. Always.



“Shot across the Bow”

Is it possible that talking about what the US government might do in response to Syria’s apparent large-scale use of chemical weapons is in fact the response? Apparently the Syrian government is “moving” things around. Could that mean that the use of chemical weapons has stopped, at least for now? Hoping so. For now.