Point Blank


By Jeff Kazmierski, Copy Editor/Columnist

This was one of those weeks that gives commentators fits. So much important stuff happened, it just doesn’t seem possible to pick just one thing to comment on.
From the international stage to local politics, it seemed someone was doing something noteworthy, cringeworthy or just amusing.
So in the spirit of somewhat lazy columnists everywhere, instead of picking one topic and banging on it, I’ll just give my take on some of the highlights of the week.
Voting Whats Act? – The Supreme Court heard oral arguments from lawyers representing states whose records respecting voting rights have been, shall we say, less than stellar in the past.
Their contention was that because things are so much better now, the law is no longer needed and shouldn’t apply to them. Most of the conservative justices agreed, ignoring the fact that said voting rights had been actively challenged in over two dozen states during the last election cycle.
Then we were treated to the not-at-all amusing spectacle of Justice Antonin Scalia making the transparently bigoted argument that the last time the law was reauthorized (in a nearly unanimous vote in the House and an unanimous vote in the Senate), it was because of “perpetuation of racial entitlement” and not out of actual necessity.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary – In a sharply divided 58-41 vote, the Senate confirmed the nomination of its former colleague Chuck Hagel as our new Secretary of Defense.
This after days of increasingly ludicrous and childish Republican opposition. Of course, considering the other conditions the right has unnecessarily inflicted on the country and the Department of Defense in the form of the sequester cuts, he may not want the job now.
Time will tell, but I hope he’ll bring to the Pentagon the kind of perspective on operations you only get from the enlisted ranks.  
Jimmy Stewart you ain’t – Invoking the original spirit of the filibuster, freshman Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the floor of the Senate for just over 13 hours in protest of the nomination of John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
Paul’s objections were centered around peripherally-related questions about the administration’s use of remotely piloted vehicles (drones, in popular lingo) as seek-and-destroy weapons against terror suspects overseas. Paul wanted the president to assure us that he wouldn’t order drone strikes against American citizens while we’re having a slice of pizza or grabbing a capuccino.
Of course, this being a classic Paul rant, it wasn’t five minutes before he got into the gratuitous Hitler references, which seriously undermined his argument. Godwin’s Law and all that.  
Brennan, an experienced intelligence professional, had previously been considered but was passed over for the post because of his role in the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program, or torture, as the rest of the world knows it. I would have thought that would be a more credible angle to go after.  But then again, credibility isn’t Paul’s strong suit.
Another One Bites the Dust – Hugo Chavez, revolutionary leader of Venezuela and megalomaniac in love with his own image, finally died from cancer.  
Or was that from being a cancer? I can never tell which with these people. Anyway, he’s gone, and it looks like another guano-crazy egomaniac will take his place.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
That’s all for now. Back to the grindstone.