2009-01-09 / Letters

Barn Door Syndrome

Dear Editor,

Politicians in this country are now more than ever suffering from the "barn door syndrome." What is the "barn door syndrome?" It is acknowledging an unfortunate event after the fact. With the acknowledgement comes a plethora of apologies. But, alas, it is too late. Where can the barn door, also called the "Oops" syndrome, be applied? It can be applied in situations we really wished never happened.

Weeks before 9/11, an agent with the FBI reported certain foreigners were taking flying lessons without taking off and landing instructions. Her reports to her superiors were disregarded, that is, until after that fateful day. How did the current administration apologize to this conscientious agent and to the country? President Bush gave the agent the Medal of Freedom at a black tie gala in Kennedy Center. He gave the country the gift of war. Initially, there was unbridled anger at the bombers. However, how about directing anger to the people we pay through our taxes to keep us safe? Combining the "chatter" about the impending attack on this country with knowing what they knew, one would think members of the Senate and the House would investigate how the FBI let the barn door close so that a tragedy of this magnitude or worse doesn't happen again. But, how could they, when those gluttonous humps are so busy raising money to stuff in their war chests they simply couldn't be bothered doing the peoples' business?

Much like the FBI is to national security, the Security and Exchange Commission is to Wall Street. Like the agent who sniffed out the terrorists' 9/11 plot, another curious employee assessed the recent Bernard Madoff calamity only to conclude the payouts versus the information on Madoff's company's monthly statements were too good to be true. Again, like the lead-up to 9/11, the whistle-blower contacted his superiors about his concerns repeatedly, only to be disregarded. The fallout from this catastrophe is yet to be determined; but, we know the consequences are grave. Yet, no senator or congressman has addressed the press in a fit of outrage recommending holding hearings to get to the bottom of how this could happen under the watchful eyes of the SEC. Why should they? We keep on electing them due to name recognition or just plain voter laziness and continually get what we deserve: inaction, apologies, and hand wringing. Oops!

Sure, 9/11 brought out feelings of anger and hatred toward the terrorists. But, in so doing it, it obfuscated the reality of the situation: that is, that our elected officials were not and are not only failing to do the jobs they were elected to do, but, they are not even verbalizing the least bit of curiosity or outrage about why things happen or how to prevent similar things from happening again. Oh, there was a 9/11 committee which made recommendations, many of which went unheeded. There was even a new cabinet post entitled "Homeland Security" which made a heck of a sound bite; but, to this day has failed to control our borders and monitor our ports. Even more sadly, the public is so inured to the irresponsibility and insensitivity of our politicians that it has become accepted behavior. When they screw up, we call them "poor b*****s' when, in truth, we are the poor b*****s for continuing to elect them.

The last time the Senate threw themselves whole hog into an investigation was the two and a half year sex scandal featuring President Clinton. Two and a half years of salacious nonsense-sapping efforts that could have been focused on foreigners taking flying lessons without being schooled on take-offs and landings. Two and a half years during which Congress was happily paralyzed because the country thought revenge against a president was more important than protecting us. Ironically, in some cases, the accusers were as guilty as the accused. Could our priorities be any more screwed up?

How can we as citizens and voters get what we should

expect out of our elected officials? First, we must vote. Then, we must educate ourselves in matters that affect us. Next, we must let our representatives know how we feel. Phone, fax, face to face appointments and/or email repeatedly if necessary, will make us feel connected and a part of the decision making process with respect to government. Certainly, it would be preferable in the best possible of worlds to expect those elected to cote the conscience of the people. But, that's not happening because we are not vigilant and they have no conscience. Remember, politicians vote on their own salary, on their own vacations, on their own perks and health care, on their own pensions and on the wishes of their largest contributors; and, we expect to get a bang for our buck? If we want to prevent another Barn Door Situation, gratuitous apologies and all, we must make our preferences known and follow up because we have learned one very sad fact: that we can not trust our politicians to protect us. Oops.

JOAN METTLER

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