Monday, June 24, 2013

Not Playing Around

As we're looking forward into this next week, we're a bit apprehensive about the massive number of major news stories looming on the horizon for all three branches of our government over the next few days.

To start with, the Supreme Court will be handing down a scattering of potentially history-altering rulings as they close their 2013 term this week. With voting rights, affirmative action, and both major same sex marriage cases being decided, those covering the news coming from the Court will have enough information coming out this week to last them long past Independence Day.

President Obama and the Executive branch have an even bigger workload on their plate this week than the Court, starting with the President's sweeping and massive climate change announcement and federal policy changes that will happen on Tuesday.

The Obama administration is also keeping close tabs on the legendary former leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, who is ill and could very likely die this week - just as President Obama is scheduled to visit several nations in Africa. The rebel factions in Syria also appear to finally be getting the weapons promised to them, so it's likely the Syrian civil war might also be drawing more attention from the White House.

In the midst of all of these news events coming up this week, does anyone think Congress will actually accomplish anything before their scheduled weeklong-plus holiday break begins Thursday afternoon? Or will this simply be another repeat of last week - a chance for Congressmembers to push around the pieces on their political gameboards, and not get one damn thing completely accomplished, as was the case with the farm bill last week.

If it sounds like we're angry at Congress, we are - and most Americans should be as well. Instead, so many Americans are still focused on stupid topics, like TV cook and longtime southern resident Paula Deen getting fired for admitting she's used the "n" word. Looking at social networking, there also still seems to be more than a few people angry about musician Kanye West and his girlfriend Kim Kardashian naming their 1st child "North" - which makes the child's legal name "North West."

The NSA story also had new twists over the weekend as Edward Snowden - who keeps insisting he isn't trying to be at the center of the story - left Hong Kongjoined forces with Wikileaks, and appears to be going to Ecuador, via Russia, Cuba, and possibly Venezuela. Meanwhile, a real whistleblower, former NSA agent Russ Tice,  admitted to the media that he actually saw, back in 2004 - when they were still illegal - orders from the NSA to spy on then-Senator Barack Obama, as well as Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Diane Feinstein, and a member of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Congress has no real intention of doing anything to settle the truly important debate that lies at the heart of both the Snowden and Tice stories, the blance between security and privacy.

All of these topics - Paula Deen, the West/Kardashian child, and even Snowden and Tice - are merely distractions, games for the masses to keep them from pressuring Congress to find solutions for the real problems facing Americans. The farm bill, the immigration reform bill, and the looming student loan interest rate hike aren't going away, and will only get worse the longer Congress ignores them.

Even if both Americans and most members of Congress choose to diddle away their time this week, it's quite clear neither reality nor the news will be playing around.