Thanksgiving weekend musings
First, the Arlen Specter debate. I’m glad that this is settled and he’s getting the position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not that I agree with how he came across to the party and the general public with his “I got mine, but you might not get yours” attitude and comment. After all, it was President Bush and the junior senator from PA that helped get Sen. Specter reelected in a blue state and allow him to ascend to the chairmanship. The comments he made and the subsequent negotiations are the things that are best done behind closed doors so that when everyone comes out into the light of public view, all are walking the same walk and talking the same talk. HE does have a good track record of approving Republican nominees, so he is an appropriate choice for the position.
Second, the Target/Salvation Army debate. This has been making the rounds of the blogosphere with hardly a mention in the MSM. Apparently Target has finally begun to enforce its own corporate policy of not allowing solicitors on store property, regardless of charitable or profit status. However, since this involves a very public charity whose main money raising time is the Christmas season, many are up in arms about the issue and have made it clear that they’ll take their business elsewhere. To all those who feel that Target has committed a mortal sin: get over it. Target made a business decision to stop making an exception for the SA since they were getting deluged with other groups who wanted in on the deal with the “well, if you allow the SA there, then we should be allowed too!” argument. Let me call the waahh-mbulance for you so they can take you away and I can get inside the store to conduct my business. Contrary to popular belief, Target stores (and all other private retail establishments) are PRIVATE PROPERTY, which means that they can run their stores however they like, that the First Amendment doesn’t apply on their property, and that you have the right to shop elsewhere if you choose. If you have a real problem not dropping money into the kettle, then shop somewhere else or send in a check as your donation. But stop complaining to Target to bring them back; business decisions are made for a reason, and in this era of extremely eager trial lawyers, maybe limiting one avenue of liability is a good thing.
Third, the defeat of intelligence reform legislation. This has got to be the biggest boondoggle to emerge from Congress in recent history. Intelligence reform in the light of 9/11 and the GWOT has become one of the biggest political issues of the year, almost rivaling Social Security for the title of “third rail” issues. The bills that emerged from both houses were very similar; the big debate has come over the power that the intelligence chief has over the budget, personnel, and intel gathering/sharing issues. Neither side has the strength to come to the table with meaningful intelligence reform: a cabinet level position that actually could dictate policy and enforce it, with full hiring/firing authority and discretionary authority over the intelligence budget. The biggest opposition has come from the Pentagon of all places. It seems that the generals there don’t want to share their intel info with the other civilian agencies. The result: lots of overlapping efforts, wasted time and money, and bad intelligence information all the way around. The Pentagon, CIA and FBI are all still stuck in a “cold war” mode where the enemy is clearly defined and Mutually Assured Destruction could actually save the world. Because of this, the agencies are still very territorial and not willing to work harmoniously to defeat an enemy that has no country or solid target to destroy. This, my friends, has got to change and this needs to be done yesterday since the Cold War ended 12 years ago. President Bush and his cabinet understand this, hence the nomination and confirmation of Porter Goss to head the CIA. This has many in the Company scared, mainly the higher-ups who don’t have a clue about the new enemy, what intelligence is needed to fight them and how to defeat an enemy that is more specter than solid. My advice to Congress is: pass the legislation, get it on the books and send it to Pres. Bush. This way he’ll sign it and then it can be modified by the next session of Congress.
Finally, let me touch on Thanksgiving and what it means to me. This uniquely American holiday is like none other in the world. Most people have taken it to mean a four-day weekend when they visit family, eat profane amounts of food and then go into a food coma while watching football, then lumbering out of the house at an unholy hour to go stand in a cold line with many others waiting to storm a store like a band of Huns for Christmas “bargains” that really aren’t and will be marked down the next week anyhow. Not me. While I did consume my share of food at a friend’s house on Thanksgiving, I didn’t go shop myself silly on Friday or gain 30 pounds. Instead, I spent the time with some great friends and felt thankful for being a citizen of the greatest country on earth, not forgetting to give thanks and remembrance for our sailors & soldiers deployed around the world to defend democracy and defeat an enemy that abhors all we stand for. To me, that is what makes Thanksgiving special: the ability to have a day of bountiful food and to remember and be thankful for all that makes this country great and unique in all the world. TO quote Andy Rooney, “…we have more to be thankful for in this country than in any other.” Truer words were never spoken.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.