The Wrong Lilies

The Wrong Lilies

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nancy Giles: Let's sue Congress!

In this web-exclusive commentary, "Sunday Morning on CBS" contributor Nancy Giles says House Speaker John Boehner's planned lawsuit against President Obama because "the president has not faithfully executed the laws" deserves an appropriate response:

I have issues with John Boehner. I don't mind that he cries easily; in fact, it's kind of sweet, though I wish his tears led to some kind of action.  Any kind of action.
When he took the gavel after Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker in our history, he received a ton of attention: interviews, write-ups, even magazine covers -- way more than Pelosi, who (whether you liked her policies or not) was a way more effective Speaker.

Times are tougher for Mr. Boehner these days. He's consistently bullied and challenged by members of his own party, and as Speaker of the House, it turns out he's really a good follower.
And who does he end up following? The squeakiest, looniest, "fringe-iest" Members of the House. What's with that?

And then there was the phone call incident: in case you missed it, on Election Night 2012, after President Obama was declared the winner and Mitt Romney conceded the election, the President put in two calls: one to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the other to Speaker John Boehner. We'll never know what the President would have said to the two top Republicans in Congress, because he was told that both McConnell and Boehner were asleep. It was past their bedtime.
Call me crazy, but if the leader of the free world calls, don't you think it might be important enough to get out of bed? What's with that?

Now, after almost four years "leading" the House Republicans to a record number of blocked votes, subcommittees and hearings, 54 votes to repeal, amend, or just somehow get their hands around the Affordable Care Act, and a government shutdown that cost the economy an estimated $24 billion (according to the financial ratings agency Standard & Poors), Speaker Boehner has topped himself. He wants the House of Representatives to sue President Obama for his use of executive actions.
According to Speaker Boehner:  "The Constitution makes it clear that a president's job is to faithfully execute the laws; in my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws."  Now that's funny. Article 2 of that same Constitution says that among the President's other powers, he "shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session."

And speaking of not faithfully executing the laws, let's talk about Congress.   Congress has many duties; a key one is to represent we, the people in what are basically the biggest town hall meetings in the U.S.A. But the main job of Congress, according to Section 8 of the Constitution? "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution..."   Make all laws. That's part of their job description! But if you're not willing to debate, if you consistently block votes from coming to the floor, if you've tried 54 times to meddle with an existing law that the majority of this country is in favor of, if instead of passing laws that help those most hurting you funnel money to top income earners, if you shout about being "fiscally responsible" while spending millions of dollars on Congressional hearings, if you legislate with double standards depending on who is President, and if the 112th Congress was the least productive one since World War II, then you're not doing your job.

That tactic, by the way, of accusing someone else of what you yourself are doing, is called "projective identification." (I knew that Psych 101 class would come in handy some day!)   So I'm wondering: Can the president counter-sue John Boehner? Or the entire House of Representatives?
Can we sue? And can Judge Judy officiate? Please?

Sunday, June 22, 2014


About these children coming in from Central America, on the one hand we can understand our agencies being overwhelmed by the sheer and perhaps unexpected numbers.  On the other hand, if this country does not have the capabilities developed to respond to this sort of emergency, what about other emergencies that may occur in the future? 

We have easily compiled a list of possible immediate emergency assistance:  government agencies such as FEMA, which could act as both provider and coordinator; clothing manufacturer donations; food company donations; camp equipment manufacturers; volunteer medical groups such as Doctors without Borders; toy manufacturers for such simple things as coloring books and crayons; book sellers for books in Spanish; private donors (you know, the ones who also spend millions for political causes); religious groups (we know many are doing so but certainly not all); finally, elected members of our state and federal Congresses (both houses) as well as folks like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.  And how about all those groups who rightly responded to Haiti, etcetera.  If these possibilities occur to us, why not to those in power? 

We know this is a complex and difficult situation, but we also know that America has a strong self-image of being a decent, compassionate nation.  And these are children.  Yes, they need to be evaluated for possible asylum and then either returned to their countries or welcomed here, but first of all, they need to be cared for kindly.  Because these are children.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


It is said that we are a divided country, and how can one disagree with that?  We have a supposed American self-image:  of being passionate about rights for everyone, of opportunities for everyone, of neighborliness, of kindness and decency, of caring for the weak and vulnerable.  Then we have the images of reality:  of individuals waving guns around in public and frightening people, of manufacturers and their agents wanting to sell their products so badly that they are not only willing but actively supporting the allowing of what is a real and basic right to own guns to morph into chaos and death and lawlessness.

With seventy four (74) separate school shootings in the last year and a half since Newtown, with countless young people killed or injured or traumatized by terror in what should be a safe place, with other shootings in offices and theaters and stores and homes and houses of religion and streets and freeways, we in America have become a nation at war.  Not at war in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Not like the other war-torn countries such as Syria and Libya and Somalia and Nigeria.  But here in America, here in the nation often described as the world’s last best hope.

And is there anything that ordinary, everyday Americans can do to save our country?  Why, yes, there are many things we ordinary folk can do.  First of all, we can replace, with votes, all the failed members of Congress, both houses, who have sold their souls to the gun manufacturer lobby and refused to write and pass and enforce sensible gun safety laws, to include the removal of military weapons from easy availability.  Secondly, we can demand loud, constant, and non-stop national debate so that the Second Amendment can be honored without this constant flaunting of guns, concealed or unconcealed, in public.  And finally, we can properly celebrate the Affordable Care Act, and make certain that mentally ill people get the help they need, instead of the guns they should not have.

These things are doable.  These things are right.  Doing these things will give us an America we honor and celebrate.  Not doing these things is unthinkable.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


On one of the television programs this morning, there was an interesting article about transgender children and young people, and how they felt about being, for instance, a girl in a boy’s biological body.  Now like many people, we don’t quite understand that, nor actually the entire spectrum of the lesbian, bi-sexual, gay and transgender world.  We just do not have a frame of reference, with the two exceptions that we have had the acquaintance of two very fine young men who were gay and of whom we are very fond.  But being fond of them is not at all the same thing as understanding their feelings and the situations in which they find themselves.

But it occurred to us today that those two young men and their fellow members of the LGBT community probably do not understand our feelings and situations, just as they might not understand my personal passion for gardening, another’s passion for automobiles, or another’s passion for animé.  Then there’s that whole other area of the mysteries of religion or no-religion.

So in the point of time where we watched this program, and seeing these very fine young children and teenagers dealing with where they  find themselves in this world, it occurred to us that maybe these are a situation that simply does not require understanding.  Maybe, instead, it requires simple acceptance.

Friday, June 6, 2014


On this particular day, the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion in World War II, there’s a lot of talk about heroes.  No one disagrees that the unbelievably courageous folks who participated in that move toward ending an horrific war were heroes, except perhaps for some of those same remarkable people still living, who often say, “Well, I’m no hero.”  We just saw such a person on TV.  He joined the military as a very young man from a small town in Texas, did his training, and jumped out of a plane in France on D-Day.  He did what he had to do, but refuses to regard himself as a hero, which, of course, he is.

So let’s talk about the definition of the word “hero”.  A hero can be defined as a very brave person, who shows great courage or character, or as somebody admired for special achievements, and those are valid definitions.  But courage can be defined as being very frightened and still doing what is needed.  So what about the very ordinary people from many parts of the world who gathered together and did their assigned jobs during WWII.  What about the ordinary people who are still doing their jobs in war zones during our current conflicts.  What about the ordinary people, many of them mothers, who are working two or three jobs to meet their responsibilities.   What about the brave folks in other parts of the world who are standing up for their beliefs against political systems they know are unfair.

What if the definition of “hero” is simply someone who knows what they need to do and shows up to do it.  If that’s the case, there are a lot more heroes around than we may realize.