Last week Kim Jong Nam, the son of the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was assassinated according to Malaysian police. Kim Jong Nam died shortly after two women put a substance on his face while he was checking in for a flight. Police have not said how the women were able to apply the nerve agent to Kim’s face and also avoid becoming ill themselves. The seeming contradiction of a poison that could kill him quickly but not sicken the attackers has stumped experts. A statement from the inspector general of police said that a preliminary analysis from the Chemistry Department of Malaysia identified the agent as “VX Nerve Agent.”
When I heard the news events regarding Kim Jong Nam I couldn’t help but think, “this is like a 007 film in real life.” The scary world of missile test launches just took a back seat causing the world to become a whole lot more terrifying. Just think for one moment that every bomb terror plot or dirty nuclear device that our nation heavily investigates and monitors now has to deal with a potential military grade nerve agent that can kill unmonitored within seconds. What makes this story interesting is that it was quickly administered with the potential to expose others in a public area such as an airport. Look for a moment at the diplomatic chaos it has stirred. Is Homeland Security prepared for this new threat both domestic and internationally? Maybe on paper, but perhaps not as prepared as we may think.
My question is, “was this a test of a new terrorism threat to airport security?” If so, how will airports or security experts deal with detecting nerve agents as a threat from public places? But another question is where did this nerve agent come from? It has been since the 1960’s since nerve agents were widely identified. Ask any soldier from the Cold War Era, and they will mention stories about Nerve Agent Treatment Autoinjector training scenarios. The threat was real until Congress banned nerve agents in 1972. 32,000 tons of nerve and mustard agents had already been dumped into the ocean waters off the United States. Currently, Russia stockpile of nerve agents is still available but lacks the money and resource to destroy it. Perhaps this is the footprint from where an international investigation should begin? But that is likely to occur due to the current relations between the United States and Russia.
I would suggest that Congress and the United Nations begin an accountability audit of nerve agent nation facilities immediately. This is not the time to point fingers at how the nerve agent was acquired or used. It is a time to place steps and practices, so this horrible event doesn’t escalate into a catastrophic incident. If I were the Director of the CIA, I would be concerned how a nation such as Malaysia has a military grade nerve agent on its land. What if this nerve agent was in a small container on a plane bound for the United States? Do we have the technology to intercept it? These are the questions that you and I should be concerned about.
Remember those Town Hall meetings where politicians are supposed to meet the public and answer questions or concerns? It seems that we are a bit too loud for our members of congress or senators. Apparently, the Town Hall meeting has become somewhat similar to a lynch mob of angry constituents that want answers but don’t receive them. Needless to say, it was politicians with intelligent talk during the election cycle that demanded accountability in Washington has now gotten full throttle from its own people… but members of Congress don’t like it.
Before I become the conspiracy theorist at large, I want to say that when politicians throw accusations that Town Hall meetings are filled with staged protesters. Let’s not forget when the same thing was lobbed and mentioned during the Democratic town hall meetings. Now that the Republicans have a taste of their own medicine they can either choose to blame the media or blame the people that interrupt the meetings – or both. But one thing is for sure, politicians won’t answer pressing questions. In fact, I have heard one politician say, “there is no one size fits all” plan. I hate to say it, but that is what legislation and law should be all about. You don’t create a law to hurt one side and allow the benefit to the other. This is why past laws are vague enough to balance between both sides.
Today it seems that Congress wants to strip away the layers of balance between liberal and conservative. This is why laws are clogged in our court system. The constant bickering back and forth over the same rehashed legislation continues to divide people. Town Hall meetings are intended to listen and facilitate balance so that laws protect people, not hurt them. When politicians run from the microphone from town hall meetings and instead seek ten thousand dollars a plate fund raisers naturally people will be pissed.
Now is the time for politicians to learn to approach its constituents from both parties and find out how to balance effectively and seek diplomacy. For once in my life, I somewhat wish we had a system in place similar to Great Britain. Once there is a no confidence vote or election process then the entire house is abolished, and elections occur rather quickly. There are no three years of presidential campaigning. You can’t run from the microphone, the press or the people in Britsh politics. Also, you must form a coalition with another party to form a substantial majority. I do like that idea. Perhaps as leaders of the free world we should reevaluate are we actually listening to the people is politics. In American politics we nothing more than smoke and mirrors filled with artificial applause and artificially placed people?
President Trump has introduced some rather controversial executive orders lately. A recent order was the temporary banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. Personally, I think this is a dangerous policy and idea. However, Trump did lay out the plan during his campaign. It is not as if these succession of presidential orders are a surprise. In all honesty, I think a majority of people are actually surprised at how quickly these campaign suggestions became instant policy.
An interesting observation is how quickly demonstrations, and well organized I might add, suddenly appeared across the nation. Additionally, many private universities have sent out letters and social media postings letting it be known that they intend to defy a presidential order. A quick civics lesson says that executive orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect, but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress. While I applaud the effort of Universities advocating for immigration issues, I think they may want to take a step back and think if such a stance is right for them. Trump has already said that he will issue another executive order to halt funding for sanctuary city schools. In all honesty, I think he will do it sooner than expected. This could mean that universities will lose federal funding leaving many students and families apparently in the middle. It could become rather nasty, but all students could be caught in the middle instead of those the target of policy intends.
I could not help but think of the Salem witch hunts where women and children were singled out because of the way they looked or what they said. In some cases those accused in the Salem Witch Trials never committed a crime nor did anything wrong. It was a populist agenda filled with mass hysteria, isolationism, religious extremism and false accusations. Many innocent people died or were forced into some form of exile to escape possible prosecution. The similarities of regular Muslims living in our country or wishing to visit versus the Salem trails are scary. Hundreds of millions of innocent people have been banned from the United States because of merely their origin. It also appears that our own method of protected discrimination classes are soon to be shredded where sex, race, religion and origin are thrown out the window with no due process but only a swipe of a pen.
Our nation must come to grips that we have President Trump for the next four years. This is how this political game has been played out since the creation of our constitution. Sure, many are not happy with the results and naturally wish they had an alternative plan. Republicans that once distanced themselves from Trump will usually rally around its leader as if all his past rhetoric was never mentioned. There will be more controversial executive orders, and at this point, nothing will surprise me. But unfortunately, that is how I must take a seat and protest where applicable until the next election. Hopefully, then Americans will have a true does of reality versus reality television to make a solid choice about leadership for the United States. The scary part is that other nations may end up barring us from entry based on how they think our electoral process works.
In the past few weeks, I have watched our democracy nearly wash away the checks and balance of power and open democracy. In North Carolina, the newly elected General Assembly, which is controlled by the Republican Party in both chambers, has stripped the newly elected Democratic governor of his powers with a series of rapid laws shifting power. The U.S. Congress has already begun to erase certain laws and change rules. Of course, this is their prerogative, but I question at what level of checks and balances will our government experience before the process collapses?
I am aware that our nation is bitterly divided. The recent election and past elections clearly show how divisive our nation has become. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I feel that bureaucracy is a good thing because it keeps a check and balance on government. It is when a branch of government changes power or policy to favor itself then it creates a further division and essentially becomes an expensive lawsuit or future Supreme Court case. A positive step for politicians is to stop trying to tilt government in your favor. Rather leave the system alone and introduce your legislation. Merely trying to amend the rules is like playing football and moving the goalpost closer to cheating your way to a win. This pisses off everyone because eventually, the opposing party will use the same tactic at a later time.
Another problem is that Congress and politicians, in general, need to stop playing the blame game. First, you bring an idea to the table. Each side discusses or debates the good and bad of the idea. It goes to committee and hopefully has better ideas interjected and weak ideas deleted from the bill. Then when it’s all said and done, it goes to the house or senate floor for a bit of further debate and a vote. That is how it’s done and has been done for hundreds of years. Congress today seems to be skirting the rules and procedures to ram through what it wants rather than people want. Therefore it’s no longer an agenda of citizens but a personal policy of a few. Eventually, it affects everyone and we the people are tired of the bickering.
This upcoming Congress will have an all republican congress and president. But there should be a fair warning to all those Republicans because not too long ago the Democrats had the same scenario. The plans they had completely backfired because of rule changes and forced legislation. If the Republicans should have learned any valuable lesson from that era was not to become radical and change the rules. Otherwise, it may be the shortest-lived control of Congress in history.