Washington Window reopening as Congressional combat escalates

After the Washington related aspects of the Cape Wind controversy reached a political autumn, and the energy project mostly liberated of back-room shenanigans, "Green paint" and other gazillionaire NIMBY ballet dances with Machiavelli, this column went on unavoidable hiatus, other than the occasional contribution from the fringes of "deep policy" politics or opportunistic story which more or less fell across our path, informally.

Now... weeeee're back! Eyes wide open! Keyboard "locked and loaded," taking aim!

On a personal note, this writer has been spending considerable time in my home state of West Virginia making arrangements for adult placement and services for our blind, severely and multiply disabled son, now 26.

He is in a most caring environment that is proving to be more compassionate and transparent than the urban settings closer to the nation's capital, where my family makes our primary residence. His future, while given all of the uncertainties about public policy, health care funding and national morality is not certain, feels safer.

In future columns, when "disability" issues touch public policy, budgeting and the larger health care arenas, we'll say more about these as they may inform other parents, guardians, caregivers and any compassionate political leaders interested in how their machinations and those of "K Street" lobbyists and militant disability "advo-zealots" impact real people in really dire circumstances, all too often lacking sufficient public sunshine.

Just as local traffic problems and remedies like stop signs and red lights unfortunately, and all too frequently, are installed only after the requisite number of fatalities, whatever bureaucratic "discomfort zones" specify, so will health care debates (and veterans' care, particularly for Traumatic Brain Injuries) be reactive to stories of excess, omission, human rights violations and dunderheaded bureaucracies for any progress. We're watching!

We will strive to bring timely analysis and focused perspectives of: energy shortages and costs; food supplies and regulatory warfare; and that always-challenging "government fiscal integrity," as well as "Environment."

These will all be reported and measured, whenever we can,  by relating them to real experiences being had by real people out in the real world beyond "The Beltway." This is in the finest tradition of journalism, which even with the Internet and all of its permutations we still believe is best deployed when our objectives reflect the sage words of the late Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant!"

My periodic travels "home" to the northern edges of Appalachia, and at times even more deeply into the "hills" where most of our nation's -- and certainly Washington, DC's -- electricity (from coal) is mined, shipped and fueled, will also help to balance our coverage of the intense debates over our nation's energy future, as well as global economic and planetary ecosystem impacts.

We'll dig into the lives of the heroic people who dig our coal while making perhaps the greatest sacrifices in human and environmental costs of our energy demand, and watch the policy implications of Washington's energy battlefield for those people and ecosystems (and yes, cities are ecosystems, too) directly affected.

These "wars," the waging and outcomes of which will set a most critical future course for our nation, begin in earnest tomorrow with the swearing in of the 112th Congress. People will place their hands on Bibles, raise their other hands and pledge to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

And almost immediately, some of them will begin breaking their oaths, preferring that we do not notice!

Battle lines already have been drawn and the opening salvos of political conflict are already being fired!

If politics is "combat," then this will be a war correspondent's notebook sharing with our readers how the battle feels, who among our leaders is behaving courageously and who perhaps more cowardly or dishonestly.

Washington all too often is viewed by those on the outside as if, to borrow from Lewis Carroll, we have to watch "through the looking glass," or more ominously, "through a glass, darkly." Can we trust what we believe we see? Is anything actually as it appears? Does anyone on Capitol Hill truly remember: "We're out here!"

Indeed, those who sometimes cover the intelligence community, as from time to time this reporter has done, are familiar with an even more descriptive phrase about how Washington sometimes works, as one author has termed it, as a "Wilderness of Mirrors." Allusions to a carnival "fun house" are not inappropriate, although in some of these realms, "fun" has to do with national security, individual liberty or upholding American values.

Frustration, opacity in the process and the penchants of politicians to default to positions reflecting, as the lawyers put it, "an absence of candor" (OK, we regular folks call that "lying," but you get my point?), all conspire to undermine our trust in anything happening under the Capitol dome, or in the White House and throughout government beyond "D.C."

Whether such cynicism is deserved or not, we as citizens must persevere to trust... and yes, "to verify!"

In this column, to which your comments are once again solicited and invited (but please, keep them pithy yet to the point, as the "folks under the bridges" with Internet access will, as is our practice, be politely escorted out of the building), we will make every effort to balance what appears to be happening at the Cape and on the Islands with leavening from "inside the Beltway" and perhaps a bit more grassroots perspective from forays into "fly over country," particularly the Appalachians and Deep South.

In our necessary travels, we like to troll for the opinions of the fine folks who inhabit the rest of America's historical center, from the oldest mountains on the planet down to our Southern beaches, which share an oceanfront with our readers along the Cape and out on the Islands. Indeed, many "expatriate" Cape Codders inhabit the nation's southern shores, even if for only part of the year, drawn by warmer water, easy living.

With the swearing in of Bill Keating tomorrow (after which, Bill is more likely to be "sworn at," but not by us as we strive to help hold him to account while perhaps balancing his public statements with a bit of perspective) we begin a renewed effort to bring solid coverage flavored with some humor and optimism to Cape Cod Today readers who choose to look at how their nation is being governed through our "Washington Window."

Let us know how we're doing as the drama in D.C. unfolds, hopefully before our nation's way of life unravels?



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