Instead of focusing on the big story of the week just ended I want to touch on a few. All should have been surprises but unfortunately after I gave one a bit of though none were.
The Mystery Is Solved If Not Yet Admitted To
In recent decades within about a month of inauguration the new president addresses a joint session of Congress in what in every physical way resembles the State of the Union Address but is technically not a State of the Union Address. I think that is silly on several levels and the distinction is largely sans a difference but those are topics for another day.
The 2021 tentative date was February 23, 2021. Obviously that date has passed and there was no address. I thought that odd but with the pandemic normality is almost an exception. The Constitution does not require a personal address; all it calls for is periodic communication. Many presidents have done that in the form of a letter. The State of the Union is a valuable part of the bully pulpit and political nerds like me love it. In view of the timing and the pandemic a letter might have been more than sufficient for 2021.
As part of the Congressional investigations into 1/6 it was revealed that domestic terrorist groups had been planning to blow up the Capital Building during the State of the Union with the intent of maximum causalities. Mystery solved: that is why the event has yet to occur and no firm date is in place.
Bang For The Buck
President Biden authorized a military strike on terrorist facilities along the Iraq-Syria border last week in response to an attack that killed a contractor and wounded a member of the American military. It is difficult not to compare this action with a theoretically similar action taken by his immediate predecessor early in his term. There is a huge difference.
The prior attack involved over 50 Tomahawk missiles which cost over $200 million a copy. Biden’s attack consisted of 14 bombs. I don’t have the exact numbers but it had to be much cheaper. As to effectiveness the Tomahawk attack destroyed a few mothballed airplanes in their old hangers and some airport landscaping (notably the runway was untouched). Biden’s attack destroyed infrastructure (mainly buildings) the terrorist forces used to facilitate their missions across international borders.
I’d say Joe got a lot more bang for the American buck.
I am not an expert on the Senate reconciliation rule but this week’s long awaited ruling by the Parliamentarian came as no surprise to me. To me it would have been an absolute stretch for the minimum wage provision of the relief bill to be allowed to pass under that rule. I’m not talking about the advisability of raising the minimum wage; I’m strictly talking about the rule’s provisions.
This is fodder for another article but I am in favor of increasing the minimum wage and don’t see how anyone in Congress (minimum salary of $174,000) can begrudge any other American working 40 hours a week $31,200 a year.
Better But Still Unsatisfactory
This week the Biden administration made public US intelligence reports that concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Prior to the public release Biden spoke to MBS’s father King Salman in what was no doubt a courtesy heads-up/consultation call. The fact that Biden called the King and not his son is huge.
The public release of the report was delayed a day and coincidentally MBS supposedly underwent an emergency appendectomy. Am I alone in smelly something fishy here? Could the King have asked for a bit of delay from an old friend in order to take family matters into his own hands? A father to father with imperfect son conversation/compromise?
Sanctions were announced against individuals involved in the killing but not MBS personally. I will admit disappointment at that but I can understand the reasoning of Biden’s national security team.
I’m certain that legally I’m incorrect if nothing else due to jurisdiction but since Trump suppressed the release of the report to Congress (let alone the public) is he an accessory to murder after the fact?
Politically Incorrect And Proud Of It
Ted Cruz was one of the first day speakers at CPAC 2021. He actually told a joke about his vacation to Cancun. Worse yet, the crowd laughed. The right wing would say that was politically incorrect and therefore embrace it. I’d also say it was stupid. Senator Cruz I’d suggest you stop writing and filming the commercials that will run against you in the unlikely event that you end up being the 2024 GOP presidential nominee and in the more likely event that you run to defend your seat in 2024.
I’m a political junkie and love the State of the Union Address even when it is the “State of the Union Address”. We may not have one this year; I’ll live and more importantly so will many members of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Cabinet.
I like a bang for my buck from the American government. I bet a lot of true conservatives do too.
I did not like the Senate parliamentarian’s ruling but agree with her. Perhaps this is one more nail in the coffin of the current filibuster rule.
The MBS affair is still in process as far as I’m concerned. I’d have like to have seen stronger action on the part of the U.S. but I understand what has happened to date.
Initially I was surprised by Cruz’s CPAC joke and the fact that it got laughs not catcalls. Then I realized who uttered it and the audience. Just another case shock but sadly not surprise.
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