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The debt ceiling debate is over and it appears that the predicted disaster for the ages has been avoided. If there is such a thing as political genius, it showed up over the last two months. Somehow, both Republican and Democratic politicians convinced America that the best thing possible for all of us was to allow the government to put the country into further debt. Have you ever seen a country so relieved that bunch of government officials agreed to increase the amount the rest of us will have to pay off over the next century?
There was little doubt that, when it came down to it, Congress and this President would choose to spend more and save less. The last two months were just about political posturing and, no matter who you deem to have “won” that battle, there is little doubt we all lost.
Locally, Congressman Chris Murphy (D-5) released a statement explaining why he decided not to vote for this current debt ceiling agreement:
“This bill didn't ask one billionaire to pay a dime more in taxes. And all the spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were exempt from the spending caps in the bill. Without putting revenue on the table, and mandating the end to these wars, we can't be serious about real shared sacrifice.
And while I have long been willing to speak out on the need for spending cuts, the cuts in this bill - including major, arbitrary cuts to Medicare - fall disproportionately on the backs of seniors and the middle class.”
Murphy went to Washington, D.C. on the promise that he would be a different kind of politician. Yet, what, in this most recent response, would qualify as “different?” Included are all the usual talking points, looking to rile up the middle class and seniors into believing that “fat cat” rich people and corporations will get the benefit, while they get the shaft. Yet, all Murphy is talking about is generating more “revenue” for.....what?
Later in his explanation as to why Murphy voted against the bill, he states: “It's especially ironic that the party (Republicans) that complained that the health care bill was 'jammed through' after one year of debate, didn't even allow for 24 hours of sunlight on this $2 trillion piece of legislation.”
It's important to note here that Murphy, at the end of 2010, voted for the “cap and trade” bill despite the fact that a 300-word amendment was added literally at the eleventh hour, an amendment many members of his own party admitted they had not read.
At some point, politicians have to be held accountable for their promises and their commitments. Murphy promised to be a “different” kind of politician, yet, from what anyone can tell, the only thing different about Murphy is that he arranges some meet-and-greet luncheons with members of the different parties. That's all fine and good, but when you recycle old class warfare lines to legitimize your support for tax hikes, claim Republicans are out to get seniors and the middle class when you lambasted the same party for making similar claims during the healthcare debate, and criticize your political opponents for rushing through legislation when you seemed happy to do the same thing only months before, you have clearly abandoned any hope of being deemed a “new” politician.
*During the Steven Hayes trial last year, Dr. William Petit, the sole survivor of the attack on his family in 2007 that left his wife and two teenage daughters dead, referred to Hayes and his alleged accomplice, Joshua Komisarjevsky, as “pure evil.” Evidently, Mr. Komisarjevsky and his lawyers, who are in the midst of preparing for his murder trial in September, want to answer back.
While there is a gag order in place that prevents lawyers on both sides from speaking to the media, the defense has filed a motion to allow an exception be made to allow Komisarjevsky and his team to “defend” themselves against such attacks.
Of course, the common refrain that such comments hamper Komisarjevsky's ability to receive a fair trial was repeated in the motion. It also goes on to say that Komisarjevsky is “not pure evil," and that he is "a damaged human being" who does not deserve to be "judged solely by the worst of his acts."
Oh, how our hearts go out to the man. He's damaged and upset and just wants the whole thing to go away. Can't we all just cut him a little slack?
I, for one, have no problem allowing the defense to “defend” their client in public. They want to prove he isn't “pure evil.” Let them try. It would be interesting to see how, exactly, the defense plans on making a career criminal who held a family hostage for hours, beat a man half to death and left him to bleed in a cellar, sexually assaulted a young teenage girl as she was tied to her bed, stood by as his “partner” raped and strangled a woman in her living room, then helped poor gasoline all over the family's house, seem like a decent guy who just made a mistake (by the way, everything just stated is what Komisarjevsky has actually admitted to doing). The “he feels really, really bad about it” defense would seem to fall a little short of a strong rebuttal.
It is obviously a hard task to defend men like Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky. However, these two defense teams have gone about their job in a way that makes most active observers cringe. There is an abundance of skepticism when it comes to defense lawyers and lawyers in general, but most are hard working men and women who offer an invaluable service: a chance to help people navigate the difficult terrain of the law. Yet, when one witnesses the no-holds-barred approach to defense taken by lawyers for Komisarjevsky and Hayes, and then hears other attorneys defend these actions by saying “they have to serve the best interests of their client,” it is hard to have confidence in our legal system. At what point do we demand that, even in the midst of a defense, people adhere to common decency?