Monday, November 16, 2009

Bow-gate, How Low Can You Go?

Let's just say that you move into a new office with a new group of co-workers and the very first day you are approached by a particular gentlemen named Bill. Bill seems to have some kind of problem with another co-worker, we'll call him Joe. Every morning Bill greets you with the latest screw up that Joe has committed. "Did you see where Joe parked this morning" he snidely remarks on Monday, "Who does he think he is parking right next to the V.P. of operations, what a suck-up." Tuesday you notice that Joe has hung a picture of his wife and kids in his cubicle. "He thinks we don't know he's trying to look like Mr. Goody Two-Shoes for the regional manager's visit tomorrow" remarks Bill. This goes on day after day, week after week, until you finally feel the need to confront Bill. "Bill" you say, "I have an issue with this Joe business. I think you are obsessing and I wonder what it is that you have against Joe, he seems like a nice enough guy to me?" Here's the question, if Bill says that he has no problem with Joe, he just happens to notice these obvious issues and feels that it is his duty to bring them to your attention would you believe him?

George Bush held the hand of, and kissed a Saudi King

Groped a German Prime Minister

and generally made a bungling idiot of himself abroad for eight long years.

However, the most ardent Bush apologists have become the most nitpicking critics America has ever known. Their latest gripe? President Obama bowed to the Japanese Prime Minister. If President Obama walked across the ocean to Japan they would have criticized him for breaking protocol by not taking Air Force One. The right wing echo chamber criticized the President for not wearing a tie in the Oval Office until pictures of Reagan without a tie appeared. They criticized him for taking his wife to a play in New York, for trying to bring the Olympics with its thousands of jobs to the U.S., for not going to Berlin, and for giving the Queen of England the very gift that she requested. Then CHEERED wildly when the United States lost its Olympic bid.

It's only been ten months but you have to wonder how long these clowns can keep up this kind of pace. You need only pay attention to what the President has, or hasn't done on a given day to predict the next round of absurd criticisms that are about to be leveled at him. I believe that we are rapidly reaching a point where the wing nut Obama critics are becoming caricatures of their own movement. However, I doubt they will be discouraged by a loss of credibility. One of my favorite quotes explains these people and their criticism quite clearly:
"Any argument that is not founded in logic and reason, will not be swayed by it"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The GOP's Strategy of Sabotage

In order to understand the tactics of the Republican Party you must first consider the strategy. The GOP, as an organization, is intent upon regaining political power, nothing else. This is not to say that there are not individuals within the Party who hold a genuine belief that their ideology is the most effective method of governance for our society. However, the overall Party strategy is forward looking with little regard for the "collateral damage" it will likely cause to the Country. In fact, it appears that the collateral damage is viewed as the vehicle to ultimate success. They see next year’s midterm elections as an opportunity to regain power and credibility.

The problem with the GOP's subversive plan is that the only way it works is if the country suffers setbacks and disaster. It doesn't take a P.H.D. in political science (lucky for me) to figure out that an economic upturn and the passage of legislature which enhances the lives of ordinary voters, such as universal health care, reduces the odds of the GOP retaking either of the houses of congress in 2010. Therefore, I would argue that any legislation which will either improve, or have the have the potential to improve the social and economic situation in America will be adamantly opposed by the Republican Party at all levels, specifically because it would in turn enhance the image of the incumbent party. Though quite cynical I admit, this argument is highly logical when considering the peculiar actions of the GOP in recent weeks. The Party whose motto was "Country First" during the presidential election wildly cheered when it was announced that the Olympic Committee had made a decision to send the games to Rio, despite the fact that this decision kept hundreds of millions of badly needed dollars out of the pockets of hardworking Americans. In virtual concert with Al Queda and the Taliban, the GOP attacked the President when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the world. 

When all of the evidence is considered, the obvious conclusion is that between now and the midterm elections the Republican strategy amounts to political sabotage. The GOP has reasoned, as any sensible person or organization would, that millions of Americans with no health care coverage, who suddenly find themselves with health care coverage, are likely to feel some sense of gratitude to the Democrats. The underlying problem for the GOP is that many of them hail from impoverished Southern states with significant numbers of uninsured citizens. Though they may sympathize with the teabaggers, I doubt that many poor southern mothers will refuse health care coverage for their children just because it is a Government run system. Unfortunately, it appears that the Republican Party is betting that the only way up, is to push the average American further down.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Alternative Healthcare Plan?

Maybe I keep missing something in the GOP's alternative healthcare proposals, but it appears to me that they only address healthcare reform for people who are either already employed and either have healthcare, or can afford it at a minimal price. The variety of proposals put forth by various GOP groups and Republican members of Congress focus on lowering taxes in one form or another for those who either have healthcare with their current employer or are employed with no healthcare. This does little or nothing to address those who are unemployed, don't make enough to pay taxes, or make so little that they can barely afford basic essentials.

In real numbers, the plan put forth by the "House Republican Healthcare Solutions Group" covers only 17 million of the 46 million uninsured Americans in the best case scenario. The plan has no budget projections and its creators have no time table for when those numbers will be available.

It appears that their strategy is to provide so few details, that the opposition won't have anything to attack. An odd but possibly effective poltical strategy to address healthcare issues in America. However if you are unemployed with no healthcare you might want to consider moving to Costa Rica. The economy may be a little shabby, but they provide universal healthcare for all citizens.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Obama's Supreme Strategy

President Obama has an opportunity to make history by nominating the first Latino for a Supreme Court seat and putting the final nail in the GOP’s coffin simultaneously. Whether he selects the current favorite Sonia Sotomayor or another person not yet named, a Latino selection would be disastrous to the GOP.

The GOP is firing up their rhetoric machine to viciously attack Obama’s nominee. They have no choice but to throw red meat to their base by launching relentless personal attacks against the unfortunate soul who sits before them to answer questions about his or her intentions as a Supreme Court Justice. The problem they have is one of numbers at the polling booth. Several Western States have turned blue lately and in no small part due to the shift in the Latino vote from Republican to Democrat. I suspect there will be a significant negative reaction in the Hispanic community as they watch the first Latino Supreme Court nominee in history eviscerated by Southern GOP Senators on national television in confirmation hearings. If that does not incite fury, they will hear far right wing anti-immigrant Republicans such as Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck making outright racist statements on the nightly news shows, as they are sure to do.

I have little doubt that the Republican Party will launch merciless attacks on the Supreme Court nominee and that if that nominee is a Latino, there will be serious consequences for the GOP at the polling booths in 2010 and beyond. The growing Latino Community has a right to be represented in the highest court in the Land, and what a great bonus to be able to set the GOP on a suicide course in the process.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The "Real Republicans" Won

It appears that a congratulations is in order for Rush limbaugh, Michael Steele, and the Religious Right. They have been calling for Arlen Spectre's political head every since he declared his allegiance to Lenin by voting for the Obama Administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (The Stimulus Bill). Upon learning of his treasonous betrayal, Chairman Steele quickly proposed that the Party find a more conservative challenger to oust Senator Spectre in the next Pennsylvania Primary Race. Recent statements by Senator Spectre make it quite clear that he met with the Pennsylvania Republican Party and discussed the reality that a staunchly conservative candidate would almost assuredly be defeated in the general election. Oddly, the Pennsylvania Republican Party advised him that a loss based on principle was an acceptable outcome, which explains their self destructive election strategies for the last two general election cycles.

Rush Limbaugh immediately went after Spectre and the entire moderate wing of the Party by delivering the "message" that "A lot of people say, 'Well, Specter, take McCain with you. And his daughter." Rush also said that he felt that this was ultimately good for the Party because it would weed out people who aren't really Republicans. As Rush and company celebrate another victory, I wonder how many of them recognize the cost. Could it be that this is just a sour grapes defense or are these clowns really fiddling while Rome burns around them? Whatever the case, Spectre's loss means that the Northeast is officially closed for the GOP (other than the Maine Senators, but that’s' a unique situation). Limbaugh, Hannity, and the other "Real Republicans" have great cause to celebrate Senator Spectre's move. The apostate traitor has been ousted and the Party was freed from his uncleanness. The Republican Party has become too right, too white, too Southern, and too small. Will the Last GOP Senator who leaves the Northeast please take down the Confederate flag, turn the light off, and close the door on your way out?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Michelle Bachman, How Far is Too Far?

The right to free speech is one of the most important provisions set forth in the Constitution. As a lifelong civil libertarian I have been involved in a variety of legal cases in which the issue of free speech was at the forefront. In fact, one of the cases I advocated for involved defending, of all groups, the Ku Klux Klan. There is no denying that the KKK is a despicable organization. However, I hold no desire to give up my 1st amendment rights just to insure that they are denied theirs.
That being said, the 1st amendment does not give you the right to yell fire in a crowded theatre, neither does it protect your right to violate a United States Federal Statute. Representative Michelle Bachman, (R-Minnesota) approached, and possibly crossed, the line of legal free speech during her March 27th appearance on the Sean Hannity Radio Show. Representative Bachman said:

"At this point the American people - it's like Thomas Jefferson said, a revolution every now and then is a good thing. We are at the point, Sean, of revolution. And by that, what I mean, an orderly revolution -- where the people of this country wake up get up and make a decision that this is not going to happen on their watch. It won't be our children and grandchildren that are in debt. It is we who are in debt, we who will be bankrupting this country, inside of ten years, if we don't get a grip. And we can't let the Democrats achieve their ends any longer.

The Alien Registration Act, also known as the Smith Act makes it a criminal offense for anyone to:

"knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association."

It is fairly clear that Rep. Bachman's statement advocates and advises the necessity, desirability, and propriety of overthrowing the duly elected Government of the United States. The only question is whether she is advocating that this overthrow is done by force. Her use of the word "orderly" before the term revolution" may" be a reasonable defense. However, when this statement is coupled with her March 21st statement in which she said:

"I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people – we the people – are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.

that defense becomes considerably less plausible. Regardless of her intent, Rep. Bachman is using extremely dangerous terms in a public forum. There are mentally unbalanced citizens in our society who need little motivation to become violent. I believe that our enforcement authorities have a duty to act when anyone in our society is involved in such a reckless campaign for revolution. Rep. Bachman is advising the political minority to overthrow the Government elected by a significant majority.

As if Representative Bachman's words are not inciteful enough, observe this recent poll from Sean Hannity's Website:

The Smith Act goes on to say:

"If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction"

For the last eight years The Bush Administration routinely acted with reckless disregard for the Constitution and the laws of our Country. It is time to hold the right wing extremist accountable for their words and act to protect our elected officials.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shredding the Constitution, Again

The Bush Administration was frequently lambasted by their left wing opposition for violating, or “shredding” as it was popular to say, the Constitution. It seemed that the Constitution was at times viewed by the Bush people as an impediment to achieving what they believed were honorable goals. It was blatantly obvious to Bush's detractors, and a number of Federal Judges, that they crossed constitutional lines on a number of occasions.

The term "shredding the constitution" became popular when it became clear that the Bush Administration was deliberately taking unconstitutional actions, hiding them from the public and Congress, and showing utter contempt for those who dared to question their actions. The legal decisions on which they based their actions were generally hidden, and most have been labeled as absurd once reviewed by competent legal experts.

Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution is quite clear, "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed or the legal status of facts and relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. A Bill of Attainder is an act of the legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.

It seems that the "ends justifying the means" attitude in Washington did not leave when the Bush Family moved to Dallas. Congress has decided to take a page from the Bush Administration's play book and deliberately violate the Constitution to achieve what they believe are honorable goals. In the political pandemonium that followed the revelations that AIG executives were taking huge lumps of taxpayer dollars in the form of bonuses in return for destroying the Company, Congress played the Bush card. They passed a law which retroactively taxes the unconscionable bonuses out of existence. Denying those who were either incompetent, unethical, or a combination of both the opportunity to fleece the US taxpayers is an honorable goal. However, Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution does not contain an exception for honorable goals. In a news interview, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) never defended the Constitutional footing of the law in question; he simply indicated that the aggrieved executives would have to take legal action to overturn it. This statement infers that he had full knowledge that the law was unconstitutional and that the intent was to force the intended targets to challenge the law in court and face the subsequent negative press.

Clearly the AIG Executives have not earned these massive bonuses. However, a Congress controlled by the Democrats has no more right to "Shred the Constitution" than a Presidential Administration controlled by Republicans. In both cases the Parties involved in the act either new, or should have known that their actions constituted a Constitutional violation. It appears that we have finally found common ground between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Credibility Gap

Republican Whip Eric Cantor's appearance on "Meet The Press" very clearly underscored the major hurdle that the GOP must overcome to regain national prominence. Rep. Cantor was in the midst of complaining about the reckless spending habits of the current Democratic Administration when the host, David Gregory, reminded him of his personal participation in the Bush Administration's eight year spending orgy. Mr. Gregory questioned how Representative Cantor and his Party leaders could criticize the Democrats for overspending after their abysmal fiscal record in recent years. Representative Cantor's answer was as self destructive as it was dishonest and insincere. He implied that the massive GOP budgets during the Bush years were mainly to support the troops, ignoring the fact that the money to run the wars was intentionally left out of every Bush budget and had to be appropriated through emergency spending measures. He also made the shocking argument that the Democrats should not make the same mistakes that the GOP had made during the Bush years.

Representative Cantor's argument was, to some extent, reasonable although not as he meant it. His argument, as I see it, is that his Party is fighting to insure that the Democrats are not as fiscally irresponsible as the Republicans. Though the premise is quite reasonable, it certainly is not one that would influence voters to abandon the Democratic Party and vote Republican. The 2009 GOP is modern day proof of the age old saying, "you can't talk yourself out of something that you have behaved yourself into." Eight years of bad behavior has destroyed the credibility of the Republican Party. There isn't much left that they can complain about without facing charges of hypocrisy. Other than right wing radio talk shows and Fox News, there are few media outlets on which they can attack the Democrats and go unchallenged.

The hapless leadership of Michael Steele coupled with an argument that accents their own disastrous fiscal record is setting the GOP up for a third consecutive drubbing in the 2010 elections and complete political irrelevancy. If their misfortunes continue unchecked, their Congressional power will be so insignificant that they will go from the Party of "NO" to the Party of "PLEASE DON'T."

Monday, March 09, 2009

Another Unfortunate Titanic Metaphor

OK, lets just suppose there was the Captain of a ship called the Titanic, for the purpose of this metaphorical illustration we'll call him Captain Bush. Now this Captain is arrogant, cocky and not terribly bright and unfortunately he happens to be at the helm of the most powerful Country, oops....I mean ship, in the history of the World. As is easily predictable, this hapless bungler of a ship's Captain proceeds to slam the massive vessel square into an iceberg. Though Captain Bush and his bridge hands are able to conceal the degree of damage for a few hours, eventually it becomes obvious to all aboard that the circumstances are dire. After a brief meeting, the Passengers and Crew vote to toss the Captain and his inner circle of supporters overboard and select a new Captain.

Their plan goes off without a hitch, but time is short and the situation is critical. The new Captain Obama is young bright and optimistic, however he has assumed control of the bridge of a vessel which is taking on water at an alarming rate. He devises a brilliant plan and embarks upon what may be a futile attempt to save the vessel. At this point in the metaphor the ship is in pretty bad shape,but still afloat so we don't yet know how the plot will unfold, but things definitely don't look rosy.

The scene changes and we find ourselves in the media room with various pundits, many of whom helped place the incompetent Captain Bush at the helm in the first place. Horrified that the passengers will recognize their complicity in the creation of this tragic circumstance and make them walk the plank, they make a pact never to mention the name of the former Captain and to make the case that the New Captain is at fault. They decide to argue that the number of gallons of water pouring into the vessel per minute has increased since the new Captain has taken the helm and therefore he should be held responsible for the tragedy, instead of old "What's His Name."

Sound pretty ridiculous? You need only turn on Cable news or listen to AM talk radio to hear this absurd argument made daily. The latest right wing talking point, or more accurately "leap of logic", is remarkably simple and just as remarkably absurd. The daily fall of the Dow , according to the right wing media, is a reaction to President Obama's policy proposals therefor he is to blame for our economic woes. This argument ignores the fact that the stock market began it's slide before Obama was elected or that the massive job losses began months before he took office. More importantly we must ignore the fact that most of the Obamas plan ares still in the proposal stage. Their twisted logic creates an economic crisis which began on January 20, 2009 and would clearly right itself shortly if not for the policies being proposed by the Obama Administration. Each day the latest Wall Street drop is directly linked to the latest Tim Geithner speech or future health care proposal.

It was easily predictable that the right wing mouthpieces would make an attempt to shift the responsibility for this economic catastrophe from its rightful owners. Their policies of deregulation and corporate welfare must be protected for future use when, and if, this mess is cleaned up. I foolishly assumed that they would wait a tad bit longer than one month into the new Administration.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Michael Steele's Hip Hop Plan

In just a few short weeks Michael Steel has proven beyond a doubt that he is a hopelessy flawed leader with an impossible mission. In one of Mr. Steele's first proposals, he has indicated that he plans an "off the hook" public relations offensive to attract young Hispanics and Blacks. He has stated that he intends to apply conservative principles to urban hip hop settings. Mr. Steele appears to believe that he need only repackage his message in a way that will be more alluring to the demographic he desires to attract.

As has been most of the GOP strategies over the last several years, this one is remarkably flawed. Mr. Steele appears to believe that young Blacks and Hispanics attraction to the President is related to race and culture as opposed to policy. Were Mr. Steele truly in connection with that community he would have realized that President Obama is by no means a hip hop culture icon. President Obama is a supremely articulate Harvard Lawyer. The closest he comes to hip hop is wearing a designer business suit with no tie and his top button open. From the perspective of music culture, President Obama fits much better in the "jazz music cool" category than hip hop "off the hook". We can much more easily picture our President wearing a pair of dark shades strumming a base guitar than we can wearing baggy jeans and gold chains spewing street slang.

Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, he must operate in an environment that will not, and can not admit that policy is the driving force behind President Obama's youthful following. Admitting that "policy is the issue which creates the attraction" immediately begs the question whether the GOP is willing to question their current policies. Questioning GOP policies is extremely risky for Mr. Steele because the Party's brittle dogmatic base may view that as treason and turn on him en masse. The GOP base, particularly the Southern Evangelicals, have equated their policies to a set of opaque moral values which ultimately means that questioning Party policy is an attack on morality from their perspective.

Chairman Steele is in an unenviable position. His Party obviously felt that the reactionary pick of a Black Committee Chairman to a Black President would counter the Democrats dominance in the Black community. His impossible job is to promote a set of policies designed to favor the wealthy and corporate class, placate the dogmatists, and attract people of color to a Party culturally associated with the Confederacy. Compounding Steele's dilemma is the fact that his "less than stellar" political career indicates that he would likely struggle leading the GOP in the best of times.

Michael Steel may survive just long enough to be an effective scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, GOP leaders have discovered their error in assuming that choosing a Black Chairman would guarantee Black votes. They have also began to notice his conspicuously lacking administrative skills. It is not unreasonable to assume that a plan to unseat him has already been hatched and will be executed at first opportunity.

The irony in this political farce is that the anti-affirmative action Party selected a candidate for the RNC Chairmanship based almost solely on race and ended up with a seemingly incompetent Leader. Then again, maybe it was all just a devious well executed plan to discredit affirmative. Whatever the case, I doubt that Steele's "off the hook" hip hop plan will either bear a great deal of fruit or save his job.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The "Specter" of Bipartisanship

Though it received little media attention, Senator Arlen Specter revealed a major conundrum facing the GOP. After voting for the Economic Stimulus Bill, Senator Specter Remarked:

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today, one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary."

"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.When asked the number of Republican Senators who held that sentiment he replied,
"I think a sizable number, I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn't want to begin to speculate on numbers."

The issue of a primary was first and foremost on the minds of Specter's Republican peers. They feared that they would anger the base and risk losing their cherished Senate seats to more conservative challengers in the primaries. This is of special concern now because the bulk of the Republicans in Congress are from extremely conservative districts. The appearance of caving in to the Democrats would be politically fatal to an Alabama of South Carolina GOP Senator.

Specter's cloak room conversation makes it pretty clear that a sizable number of GOP Senators are not, as they assert, ideologically opposed to this Bill. They simply value keeping their Senate seat over working to save the ailing U.S. economy.

This episode also reveals the depth of the problems faced by today's GOP. The Republicans in Congress are being controlled by the Party's right wing. To make matters worse, it's the right wing at the bottom of the Party as opposed to the right wing at the top. During the Bush Administration, the neocons and the wealthiest 1% controlled the Party via the White house. When the Party fell into disarray after the 2008 election cycle, the core of power fell from the top the the bottom. The sudden power vacuum created an environment in which the hapless base inadvertently seized power. Their unity around social issues and collective view of Democrats as an outgroup made them the only element in the Party with any semblance of continuity.

During the Bush Administration party elites, with Karl Rove as their enforcer, ruled GOP members of Congress with iron fists. Congressional decisions were made collectively based on the fear of retribution from above. Now, as indicated by Senator Specter's comments, the situation has been reversed. GOP members of Congress are now forced to consider the effects of angering the unified voting base before making political decisions. Inspired by powerful right wing media personalities such as Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, the myopic republican base is demanding strict adherence to right wing philosophies. Though likely aware of the long term consequences, GOP members in Congress are bound to satisfy the base or be replaced by someone who will.

The issue of bipartisan governance is being decided by a shrinking group of White Southern Protestant Evangelicals oblivious to the social revolution that has taken place around them.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The New GOP

The GOP of 2009 is quite different than the Party we have become accustomed to over the last decade or so. As odd as it may seem, today's Republican Party is a highly concentrated form of the 2000 through 2004 Gang that brought us Iraq, a trillion dollar deficit, and Freedom Fries. While the Democrats were trouncing the Republicans in both 2006 and 2008, few seemed to notice that the Republicans who were ousted were those who made up the moderate voice of the GOP. Those Republicans who were in districts with an ideologically diverse constituency were nearly all replaced when the Country began trending blue. As the GOP loses it's moderate voice it becomes more conservative which ultimately drives away the remaining moderates and guess what, the Party becomes even more conservative. A political trend which, if it continues, will ultimately leave a small, angry, and powerless group of White Protestant Southerners commiserating about how the minorities, Yankees, and Hippies are bringing this country to ruin.

The 2009 GOP is made up of mostly Southern and Western hard core right wingers who answer to bright red districts. Regardless of the ideological moderation which seems to have blanketed America, their home town voters are the true believers. The Sarah Palin supporters who spent the general election convinced that Barack Obama was a Muslim who sat in a Church for 20 years listening to a radical Christian preacher.

President Obama began his Presidency attempting to cross Party lines to compromise, and maybe even synergize, with his opposition. He quickly found out that the crew he faces now will not be bargained with. They will fight him on every issue and put the future at risk to win a battle against him today. The recent appearances of Jim Imhoff and Lindsey Graham spitting anger and venom on MSNBC painted a grim picture for those hoping for bi-partisan governance.

President Obama will need to consolidate power within his own Party in order to push through many of the initiatives he proposed during his Campaign. The dozen or so Democrats who opposed the stimulus bill in the house must be brought back in line, and it may be necessary to unleash Rahm Emanuel to get the job done.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Big Bet

The GOP has decided to wager their future on the hope that the economy continues to crumble and ultimately crashes. Their unanimous opposition to the economic stimulus bill points to a near sinister approach to regaining power. They intend to vigorously oppose the stimulus package, then tout that opposition in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles when the country is still in dire economic straights. It's a perverse version of the politics of hope. The Party is wagering it's future on the hope that the downward economic trend can't be reversed, at least not until after 2012.

Their thinly veiled strategy is quite obvious. If they expected and favored economic recovery they would simply oppose the bill, then split their votes on the House and Senate floors. The bill would get passed and they would have the dual luxury of claiming credit if things got better, or playing the "I told you so" card if it did not. It's not logical that the GOP would oppose the bill, then hope the Country recovers? No Doubt, in 2010 a strong well financed Democratic Party would flood the airwaves with adds showing the GOP opposition to the stimulus bill that "saved the economy" without a single Republican vote.

The GOP has bet everything on economic disaster. They are well aware that they will never stop this bill, but they want to make a loud point of opposing it. It appears that after losing 56 seats in the last two election cycles, they decided to go for it. They'll be clasping their hands together praying that the economy does not begin to come back before they can capitolize on the fallout.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tax Cuts to the End

When the Republican Party gained full power in 2000 they fully implemented the tax cut agenda as a rallying cry. The first order of business was to demonstrate the power of their long held position that cutting taxes was a political and economic fix for all problems. When the economy was strong and there was a significant budget surplus, the Republican answer was to cut taxes and give money back to the people who earned it. When the Country was militarily engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Republican answer was to cut taxes for reasons which have never been explained to any reasonable degree. When the economy began to fade, once again the Republican answer was to cut taxes to stimulate the economy.

After eight years of cutting taxes and watching the economy crumble, it comes as no surprise that the Republican Party is fighting the current stimulus bill because it does not have enough tax cuts for their liking. It is increasingly obvious that the GOP has little else to fight with. The constant demand for tax cuts is little more than a rallying cry to excite the base and obstruct the Democrats. Tax cuts have been proposed to stimulate the economy during fiscal difficulties, and boost the economy even more during periods of fiscal growth.

The Republican Party is struggling to find an answer to a problem which they don't understand. Massive domestic and foreign policy failures has enlightened the electorate to the politics of perception. Soundbites, rallying cries, and other tools which work to create perceptions and raise age old fears have little effect on people with serious real world problems.

I have little doubt that the Republican Party will continue their call for more tax cuts to save the economy, bring peace, and cure such ailments as arthritis and gout. However, after each election cycle there seems to be fewer of them in Congress to make that argument. At this rate, by 2013 you will need a history book to find a Republican in Washington. The Party of tax cuts seems doggedly determined to turn America into a one party State....with low taxes.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama's Ethics Rule Waiver; Hypocrisy or "Big Picture" Move?

Two days after implementing sweeping new ethics rules President Obama has decided to waive a provision regarding former lobbyist to bring Mr. William Lynn into the Administration to fill the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense. This move attracted immediate criticism from people on both sides of the aisle. The Administration's reasoning was clear and concise:

"Because Mr. Lynn came so highly recommended from experts across the political spectrum, the president-elect felt it was critical that he fill this position," said Obama Transition spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“After consultation with counsel to the president," said Director of the Office of Management of Budget Peter Orszag in a statement, "I hereby waive the requirements of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Ethics Pledge of Mr. William Lynn. I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver given Mr. Lynn's qualifications for his position and the current national security situation"

Though appearing to be worthy of the criticism it has received, I would argue that it is a classic Obama move and reflects his focus on the big picture. The two highlighted portions of the statement: "it is in the public interest" and "and the current national security situation"
are indicative of the results oriented thinking process President Obama has continually demonstrated. He created a new set of ethics rules to accomplish his Presidential mission. A critical part of the mission is to keep the American people safe and he believes that appointing Mr. Lynn in this position is the most effective move he can make to accomplish this goal. Therefore he must make a decision as to which is more important, the rule or the goal. It would be imprudent to appoint a lesser qualified person to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense, possibly making the unit less effective,just to keep from breaking a non-binding ethics rule, not a law... but a rule. When considering that this position is critical to the safety of our nation, what reasonable person could argue that the rule is more important.

The rule is part of a process which is designed to accomplish a mission, in this case national Security. President Obama is clearly a man who believes in rules and order, but being a results oriented thinker I doubt that he would ever hesitate to waive a rule if it would compromise the success of the mission.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, the Voice of Treason


"My hope, and please understand me when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, 'Well, I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance.' Why? They didn't give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated, the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I'm not talking about search-and-destroy, but I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed.
"If I wanted Obama to succeed, I'd be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he's talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the U.S. government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, 'Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.' (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here's the point. Everybody thinks it's outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, 'Oh, you can't do that.' Why not? Why is it any different, what's new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don't care what the drive-by story is. I would be honored if the drive-by media headlined me all day long: 'Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.' Somebody's gotta say it."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama and the Lincoln Legacy

It is quite clear, even to the casual observer, that President Elect Obama has employed the legacy of Abraham Lincoln as a theme for his Presidential campaign. He announced his candidacy in Lincoln's adopted home of Springfield Illinois and spoke of Lincoln's political and social philosophies repeatedly in his speeches. He will be travelling to Washington by train just as Lincoln did and stopping for a speech in Philadelphia, again mirroring Lincoln's pre-inaugural activities. The closing symbolic act of his campaign will be to get sworn in on the same bible used by Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

The Republican Party has laid claim to the Lincoln legacy for years by touting themselves as the "Party of Lincoln," which seems rather far fetched considering the fact that President Lincoln was ideologically a center left politician. When he was elected, Lincoln represented a loose coalition of former Whigs, anti-slavery Democrats, abolitionists, and a nativist anti- immigrant group called the "Know Nothing" party. This group collectively branded themselves the Republican party as they came together over a period of several years prior to his election. Any unbiased review of Lincoln's policies clearly reveals that he was left of center and in no way ideologically aligned with the Republican Party of today.

President elect Obama's campaign has emphasized the similarities between his political philosophy and Abraham Lincoln's. He often echoes Lincoln's emphasis on national unity by referring to the United States specifically as the Union, which also serves to remind modern day pro-confederates who won the war and that the South "won't rise again." He is openly reclaiming the Legacy of the Lincoln Presidency from the Republican Party by demonstrating his ideological alignment with Honest Abe. Invoking Lincoln's legacy while proposing left of center populist policies will leave the Republican Party in the position of voicing their support of President Obama whenever they attempt to make gains using Lincoln's Party affiliation. I suspect it will be quite rare to hear members of the GOP promoting themselves as the "Party of Lincoln" over the next four to eight years.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

56, 57, Roland Burris....

I am pleased to see that the Senate Majority Leader finally wised up and remembered how to count. Post-Bush America will be a financial wasteland unless dramatic measures are taken by Congress and the incoming President. As expected, the Southern Republicans have suddenly become budget conscious and are subtly indicating their intent to try and scuttle the Obama Adminstration's stimulus package. Whether he was nominated by Rod Blagojevich or Rod Serling, the Senate may need Roland Burris's vote to stop a filibuster and possibly save the nation from a deep prolonged recession or worse.

I'll admit that it's possible the Republicans will find a way to capitolize on the Burris situation in the long run, but trust me, they'll capitolize a whole lot more on a depression. Right now, the short run is too ugly for any of us to be concerned with the next election cycle. It is being reported that President Elect Obama has indicated to Senate Democrats that he wants the Burris seating to happen and happen fast. Not so coincidentally, he has also indicated that he wants the stimulus package to happen and happen fast.

Forget the Blagojevich controversy for now, the Illinoisians will deal with that as is their responsiblity. Currently, Harry Reid and company must remember that desperate times call for desperate measures so whomever ol' Blago sends them with a (D) behind his name needs to get seated.