The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is the only efficient way most people in Maryland, Washington, DC, and some parts of West Virginia and Virginia have available to get to the “Eastern Shore” of Maryland, Virginia and southern Delaware. There are two spans. The Southern-most span opened first, in the mid-1950s, with two lanes. The bridge became so incredibly popular, however, that a second span with three lanes was added in the early 1970s. You only pay a toll as you head east on the bridge. Over the years, the bridge has become far more crowded, as you can imagine and as it became more crowded, the back-ups to get onto the bridge have become progressively worse. In response to the interminable lines at the toll booths most Friday evenings during the summer, the Maryland Department of Transportation has added a lot more toll booths. You know, because more toll booths means shorter lines, right?
Essentially, some :expert decided that more toll booths was the answer, but at best, that decision was reactionary, and without much thought, because it has actually led to worse delays and longer traffic jams. And they're worse for a very foreseeable reason. There are now ELEVEN toll lanes before the eastern entrance to the bridge, but there are STILL only TWO eastbound lanes on the bridge itself. That means we essentially have ELEVEN lanes of traffic merging into TWO on heavy traffic days, and it’s that attempt to merge that causes the terrible jams that currently exist. The real solution -- the non-reactionary solution -- for the huge traffic jams would be to CLOSE most of the toll lanes when traffic is heavy. But imagine the public reaction if there was a backup on the Bay Bridge, and only four toll lanes were open. The politicians who have to make the decisions would be skewered.
And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with politics these days. Politicians are faced with reactionary opinions, offered up by professional pundits, whose main goal is to stoke the fires among the populous, and who seem incapable of looking at the big picture. Reactionary opinions are, by definition, uninformed. You can't possibly understand a situation without considering it carefully. For example, if you had just been in a three mile backup before the Bay Bridge, and saw that seven toll lanes were closed, you'd assume that was why traffic was clogged, and you'd be on the phone with your legislator demanding they all be opened. But when I explained to you that eleven toll lanes makes traffic move faster when it's slow, but has the opposite effect when traffic is heavy, because the effect of eleven lanes of traffic merging into two has the effect of clogging the pipeline, so to speak, you would calmly see that, and realize that MDOT officials were SMART to close most of the toll plazas.
Uninformed opinions seem to weigh too heavily on the system these days. Yes, I’m referring to teabaggers, of course, who have such strong opinions on the Constitution despite having never read it. But a lot of it comes from our side of the aisle, too. While most liberals are very level-headed and reasonable, and trust President Obama, we have a number of pundits – whom the Obama Administration has rightly dubbed “The Professional Left,” who have a lot of pointed opinions about everything, but who seem incapable of looking at the big picture, and considering the political repercussions of what they demand. Their attitude is very strident, and very sure, but in the end, it’s also very reactionary and (usually) wrong.
Consider the consistent whining from the professional lefties when it comes to President Obama’s “kill list.”
Now, no one in his right mind would deny there is a terrorism problem in the world, and that the United States is a target. I do think the concept of “they the us for our freedom’ is dumb, but there's little doubt that there are rogue bands of thugs who are hot to come hereand kill as many innocent people as possible. Yes, as a nation we've done some stupid things over the years, but innocent Americans don't deserve to die just because our politicians have been boneheads in the past. The federal government is REQUIRED to protect us from such threats.
The brave men and women who work for our intelligence apparatus – people like Valerie Plame Wilson, whom the professional left used to hold up as virtuous and beyond reproach when it was to their benefit – have done a lot of work and given their lives to identify terrorists who are actively planning to kill innocent civilians, and who think the higher the number, the more points they’ll get on the other side. These people have to be eliminated.
The Republican way was to start one war in a hotbed of terrorism, and abandon that war to start another in a nation with few terrorists, but lots of oil. Now, this was obviously not a good approach, so when Democratic President Barack Obama came into office, he changed the mission. Instead of dropping huge numbers of bombs on anyone, we now use unmanned drones to target specific people who had been identified as hardcore terrorists. In the process, some civilians have been killed. That's unfortunate, but the only solution I see coming from the professional left is to arrest these people and bring them to trial.
The drone program should have more oversight, although we’ll never get that with a Republican Congress and/or a President Romney in place. I also think they should avoid using drones in densly populated areas, but given the number of casualties reported so far, they would seem to be doing that in most cases. I welcome the coming UN investigation, to find out how widespread the civilian casualties have been, and look forward to steps taken to minimize them even more.
But a large number of professional lefties apparently have a problem with the existence of a “kill list” altogether, and they harbor a fantasy that we can just pick up these people and hold them over for trial.
Yes, I said “fantasy.” Exactly how do we go about “arresting” these people and putting them on trial while keeping civilian casualties to a minimum? The terrorists we've been going after purposely hide out in populated areas in places like Pakistan and Yemen, and surround themselves with small armies for protection. What do these folks think will happen if we send people in to arrest them? Do they imagine them giving up without a fight? Are they just going to tell the bodyguards to put down their weapons and submit to a US Court?
Look, I get it; ideally, everyone’s technically innocent until proven guilty. If we can catch them without bloodshed, I'm all for it. But that’s an ideal. Ask any police officer in this country how often such people just peacefully give up and ask you to take them to court. Yes, that’s right, professional lefties; in this very country, where police haveactual jurisdiction, law enforcement personnel are often forced to kill a suspect in order to protect the public, even before there's a trial. And yet, when it’s justified, no one condemns the police for it. And there’s a reason for that, because it saves lives over the long haul.
Fighting something like terrorism requires a calculus be applied. How many civilians are in danger using drones vs. how many civilians are in danger trying to arrest someone vs. how many civilians are in danger if we are to invade vs. how many civilians are in danger if we just let the terrorists alone and wait until they actually do something to arrest them? You don’t have to be a military genius to note that, with proper oversight, the drone is the method most likely to limit civilian deaths. And let’s be real; the “kill list” does nothing more than acknowledge reality. If the professional lefties who decry the existence of the “kill list” would like to band together and head over to Yemen and Pakistan to arrest these assholes, I have no objection to it at all. Think of the extra readership on your blogs. I'll support your effort wholeheartedly. Put your money where your considerably large mouths are, Greenwald, Scahill, et al. As for me, I'll leave it to the professionals.
We have to stop being so reactionary, and think more about the consequences of the demands we make on government. And stop depending on the professional left until they start looking at the big picture. And no, I am not professional left. I barely make enough to cover expenses with this blog (donations accepted over to your right) and I encourage everyone to check my facts. They do not. In fact, when I check their facts, they actually attack me personally. Professional Lefty hack Jason Leopold has even gone so far as to put up a fact-free blog post about me, even using a copyrighted photo without permission.
We need to open up and look at the big picture, and stop engaging in reactionary politics.
For example, there is so much whining, still, about the fact that President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts in late 2010. Only, that’s not reality. What he actually did was to PREVENT those tax cuts from being extended far longer than two years. Only, reactionary thinking prevents some from seeing that fact.
The Bush tax cuts would have expired at the end of 2010, but not just those for the rich. The cuts would have also ended for working people, who were already having a difficult time making ends meet. And because of the stellar job these same professional left whiners did in 2010, a Republican majority was about to take over the House, while Democrats held onto a bare majority in the Senate. Now, what do you imagine would have happened once January 3 came along, and Republicans took over? They would have passed a bill extending them, and they would have found little opposition. Democrat in Congress would have tried to limit the cuts to those making less than $250,000, but they wouldn’t have been successful. It is also possible enough Blue Dogs would have had no choice but to join them, giving them a possible veto-proof majority. And if that was the case, the tax cuts would have become permanent. In other words, by making a deal with Republicans, Obama actually prevented them from becoming permanent. But only if you open your mind to the entire reality, and not just the one some want you to believe.
You have to be able to look at the entire field to understand what plays the coach is using in the game. You know, like the infamous NDAA.
You remember the NDAA, which the professional left flogged for months as an example of just how badly President Obama “caved” to the GOP. In fact, the term “NDAA” is still used to defame the president, as if the entire bill was an affront to the rights of Americans. The entire argument against the NDAA came from a single, error-ridden post by Glenn Greenwald, who suggested that Obama’s failure to veto the bill would lead to the end of American jurisprudence as we know it. This, although the section Greenwald and the professional left have been whining about for six months comprised a little over one page of a bill that was more than 950 pages long.
Do you realize what might have happened had he vetoed the entire bill? Nothing, of course, since the bill passed by a veto-proof majority. Of course, such a veto would have legitimized complaints from Republicans that Obama “hates the troops” or some other such nonsense. And just FYI, there were a few progressive reforms in the NDAA, including expanded protection for whistleblowers. Yes, folks; the same people who have been complaining about “whistleblowers” like Bradley Manning for years, actually demanded the president veto a bill that included significant protections for such people in the future.
See how that works? Anyone can pull one small section out of a bill and smear someone else with it. That’s not politically savvy at all.
By the way, the section of the bill professional lefties declared would mean the end of American justice as we know it, and would result in future presidents just rounding up citizens at will and tossing them in a gulag, was struck down in court, anyway, making an Obama veto a absolutely superfluous act.
Funny how silly some of these arguments look when you're shown the big picture, huh?
Obama's done many stellar things while in office, and he's proven that he knows more about politics than the professional left. Look at how much heat he took for not signing a presidential order against DADT. How many of the professional lefties who demanded that told you that such a thing was legally impossible? He also took a lot of heat from pro lefties for not refusing to enforce DADT when it was the law? I'm sorry, but didn't we just have eight years of a president who ignored the law when he found it inconvenient? A president deciding to NOT break the law he disagreed with should have been a refreshing change after the Bush Administration used Constitution toilet paper for years. Instead if ignoring the law, he pushed Congress to change it, and now DADT is history. Legally. So is DOMA. Again, legally.
And what about the Affordable Care Act? Presidents and Congress, including some with a Democratic supermajority, tried and failed to pass a national health insurance law for many years. But when he finally did it, some elements of the left insist on giving him shit for doing so, even without a supermajority in Congress. Listening to some so-called "liberals" talk, you’d think we’d moved backwards on health care. If you want more, then dammit, put in a Congress that will PASS more! You want a public option? Read the law, folks; there WILL be a public option in the future, I guarantee it. (unless the GOP successfully kills most of the Act, that is.) And the impetus for the public option will come from…
the insurance industry.
Insurance companies used to make money by removing sick people from their rolls, refusing to cover anyone who might actually use health coverage, by denying coverage and hoping the patient wouldn’t object, and by raising premiums as high as they wanted. All of that is over. ALL OF IT. PLUS, the new law makes them spend 80% of all insurance premiums on actual health care, which means their profits, executive salaries and all of that must come out of that 20%. If you think they can take on far more risk than ever before, and be limited on how much they can spend on administrative costs and profits, without some assistance, think again. When the ACA kicks in fully at the end of next year, insurance companies will be begging the government for relief, in the form of an expansion of Medicare and/or Medicaid, to ease their burden.
In other words, when you look at the totality of what we have, any complaints sound very much like ignorant whines. The insurance companies can’t run all over us like they once did. And if “more customers” means “more profits,” then please explain for the class why 40 million people had no access to health insurance.Surely, there was nothing stopping insurance companies from adding customers before, so why are they suddenly complaining about all those extra customers?
Again folks; look at te whole playing field.
The addition of as many as 35 million more customers – most of which were previously denied because they might actually use the insurance – means the opposite of higher profit, actually. That should be obvious to anyone who sees how much they have fought, and continue to fight, the ACA.
We have to stop reacting and start thinking about the big picture, folks. Rarely is there only one solution to a problem, and almost never is any solution to a problem free of consequence in its own right. I’m all for giving the poor more assistance, but there is a point where a large number of people will sit on their asses and collect “free money” every month, if we don't put restrictions on it, and go after fraud. I’m all for cutting the defense budget, but we have to replace the weapons systems we’re building with something else. If we’re going to stop making the F-22, then help them retrofit the plant to build wind turbines and/or solar panels. Don’t just advocate for cutting the defense budget; a lot of civilians depend on that money for a living. If we’re going to complain about corporations, we need to be more specific about which ones, and what they’re doing, since most corporations are actually quite small and do good things for people. The person who owns your favorite pizza parlor or vintage clothing store is probably incorporated, and including them in a generic diatribe about corporations in general is probably unfair.
And before you just join in when some professional left pundit whines about something, investigate the facts and consider the consequences of the solution the pundit recommends. In most cases, the second part is easy, because these folks rarely offer solutions. When Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill complain about Obama’s “kill list,” you’re unlikely to see any alternatives offered, except for mindless rants about "arresting and trying them," containing no details as to how that should happen. But they should. Don't trust anyone who only lists problems, but doesn't offer solutions.
How do you arrest a terrorist in a foreign country without incurring any civilian casualties? If you're being honest, the answer is, you probably can't.
Big picture. Take a deep breath before you react, and you’ll see it. And when you see it, you’ll be a lot more relaxed. And just as four toll plazas is more effective in regulating heavy traffic than eleven, you’ll find that the solutions you come up with when you’re more relaxed make a lot more sense and actually solve problems.