Archive for the ‘The Issues’ Category
Newly minted House Leader John Boehner recently commented that, although the GOP now has control of the house, that President Obama is still in charge. It seems that even with control of the House that the GOP has no intention of taking any responsibility for setting the agenda for the people’s business. Instead, and this should be no surprise, the GOP will simply block the Democrats attempts at passing legislation and helping stimulate the economy. After all, why not do this if they can successfully use this political tactic against the Democrats time after time?
Sadly, even though the Democratic Party did pass health care reform, Wall Street reform, stop the free fall loss of jobs, and create a new consumer protection bureau, the GOP was more successful at whining about jobs and how the cost of these programs were sinking the economy. The result was nothing short of a disaster for the Democratic Party in the recent midterm elections.
If, however, the Democrats are following the correct legislative strategy, then why weren’t they more successful in the midterm elections? It is very clear that the Democratic Party has a messaging problem. They cannot seem to be able to energize their own base nor do they seem able to adequately respond to the GOP and Tea Party attacks without looking like they are ready to fold. The result of all this was a sound trouncing by the GOP. The President, incidentally, has the right strategy, but at the wrong time. His attempts to take the high road and avoid division with the GOP is the better way. Unfortunately, however, all this did was to make the Democrats appear weak in the face of constant 24/7 GOP campaigning.
In the end, despite all their gains in the midterms, the GOP plans to continue the strategy of blocking everything the Democrats do while simultaneously blaming them for getting nothing done. The only sound response to this GOP strategy, is for the Democratic Party to come out fighting hard and to compromise less since the GOP will simply sink anything the Democrats attempt to compromise on. Put simply, the President and his party need to force the GOP to come up with alternatives to their legislation, every hour of every day and hammer at this until the American people wake up and realize that the GOP is truly the party of no.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was quick this past week to accuse the Democrats of ‘fanning the flames’ of voter discontent by blaming the GOP for recent threats against 10 House Democrats. The Democrats, on the other hand, have been complaining for a very long time (since the 2008 Presidential campaign) about GOP collusion with extremists that resulted in multiple threats to President (then candidate) Obama’s life.
Indeed, threats of violence to 10 house democrats and vandalism to multiple Democratic headquarters across the country seem related to dangerous rhetoric by the GOP. Such rhetoric included Sarah Palin’s cross-hair map symbols targeting Democratic districts and telling her supporters to ‘reload’. House Minority Leader Boehner was quoted as calling someone a dead man and referred to the health care vote as ‘armageddon‘. Not only that, but extremist threats made were not limited to law makers. In fact, threats directed at the 10 Democrats extended to their spouses, and even, their children.
Cantor’s outrage at the Democrat’s alleged politicization of the threats is disingenuous at best. House Republicans received one call and an alleged incident at Congressman Cantor’s campaign office – none of which was serious enough to warrant police protection.
Democrats, on the other hand, before and after the vote were spit on, called racial epitaphs, and harshly criticized for their sexual orientation. These incidents, coupled with the vandalism and threatening phone calls, were serious enough to prompt the FBI to investigate and for Democrats to receive police protection.
Adding insult to injury, Democrats were beginning to see a more pronounced problem with their GOP colleagues both in the house itself and on the capitol lawn during the health care debate. GOP law makers, live on C-SPAN, cheered on a disruptive tea party protester who was ejected from the gallery of the house during the health care debate, unfurled a ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag (now usurped by the Tea Party as their flag) to a jubilant crowd of Tea Party protesters outside, and participated in a plethora of Tea Party protests leading up to the health care vote, even sponsoring some of them with Fox News close behind.
But the crowning achievement of the GOP during the health care debate was when Abilene Congressman Randy Neugebauer interrupted Rep. Bart Stupak during debate on the house floor to call him a ‘baby killer’ for supporting the health care bill publicly (shown in this footage):
For all those tempted to say ‘both’ sides are at fault, both sides own some of the responsibility for outrageous and unprofessional behavior on the House floor or by Tea Party extremists, ask yourself this question: Have the Democrats spit on anyone? Have Democrats told their followers to ‘reload’ in reference to a renewed campaign against a bill? Have Democrats called the President a liar in national TV during a speech to a joint session of congress? Have the Democrats called anyone a ‘baby killer’?
All extremists that call for violent opposition to a democratic form of government or threaten the lives of people because they disagree with them are shameful and dangerous – plain and simple. There is no place for them in our society.
Any law maker, that fans the flames of discontent by cheering on extremist protesters that disturb a house vote, call for the physical replacement of a Democratic member of congress at a Tea Party rally, or side with Governors that threaten to secede from the Union, is an embarrassment and should be censured (at a minimum) or perhaps even prosecuted under federal law (at a maximum).
It is time for the GOP to calm the dangerous rhetoric of the past year. I’m sure they will continue to disagree with Democrats and that is fine. That disagreement in an open and public forum for all to see is what Democracy is all about. Dangerous rhetoric that prompts violence is not.
In the first of several debates, Presidential candidate Barack Obama clearly demonstrated his command of the facts, his intelligent and articulate analysis of the economy, and held his own against McCain in foreign policy. McCain, who was widely viewed as superior in foreign policy, should have trounced Obama – but did not. Instead, Obama sparred with McCain for over 90 minutes answering questions confidently and responding to McCain attacks decisively. In one such attack, McCain accused Senator Obama of promoting an attack against Pakistan and doing it loudly – which he felt was inappropriately handled:
We’ve got to get the support of the people of — of Pakistan. He said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan.
Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.
Obama responded quickly:
Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.
And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.
Now, I think that’s the right strategy; I think that’s the right policy.
And, John, I — you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.
McCain, on the other hand, appeared to be uncomfortable and defensive at times – even mispronouncing some leader’s names:
Now, the new president of Pakistan, Kardari (sic), has got his hands full. And this area on the border has not been governed since the days of Alexander the Great.
That may seem like a minor point, however, when you are billed as superior to Obama on foreign policy, that kind of mistake is bad – especially when your opponent (Obama) made no such mistake in over 90 minutes of off the cuff debate.
On the economy, Obama came through loud and clear as the candidate that was clearly for helping Main Street, while McCain came through as the candidate who promoted programs to help Wall Street – both by his own statements and by Obama’s criticism. In fact, McCain had to be asked twice to give an answer on his opinion of the bailout plan because he spoke about the economy vaguely in his initial statements. Obama on the other hand immediately laid out his plans on what needs to be done.
OBAMA: You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is involved in two wars, and we are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
And although we’ve heard a lot about Wall Street, those of you on Main Street I think have been struggling for a while, and you recognize that this could have an impact on all sectors of the economy.
And you’re wondering, how’s it going to affect me? How’s it going to affect my job? How’s it going to affect my house? How’s it going to affect my retirement savings or my ability to send my children to college?
So we have to move swiftly, and we have to move wisely. And I’ve put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort.
No. 1, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money.
No. 2, we’ve got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market — and when the market returns.
No. 3, we’ve got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes.
And, No. 4, we’ve got to make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country.
Now, we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.
It hasn’t worked. And I think that the fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake. That’s why I’m running for president, and that’s what I hope we’re going to be talking about tonight.
McCain, on the other hand, didn’t have many specifics about how to fix the economic woes or about his support for the bailout plan.
MCCAIN: And, Jim, I — I’ve been not feeling too great about a lot of things lately. So have a lot of Americans who are facing challenges. But I’m feeling a little better tonight, and I’ll tell you why.
Because as we’re here tonight in this debate, we are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we’re in.
And have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We’re talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in — certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while.
But the point is — the point is, we have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.
This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it.
And, yes, I went back to Washington, and I met with my Republicans in the House of Representatives. And they weren’t part of the negotiations, and I understand that. And it was the House Republicans that decided that they would be part of the solution to this problem.
But I want to emphasize one point to all Americans tonight. This isn’t the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning, if we come out with a package that will keep these institutions stable.
And we’ve got a lot of work to do. And we’ve got to create jobs. And one of the areas, of course, is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.
Obviously, McCain had more to say on the economy as the debate continued, but the point here was that he was slow to initially respond on the most important crisis facing America today and was on the defensive about House Republicans torpedoing the bipartisan Senate agreement taken to the White House – since it is widely viewed as a McCain led attack on the initial plan.
Interestingly enough, polling has shown that Obama won the debate by a large number of uncommitted voters (CBS & CNN poll) on the economy and foreign policy. However, I have never been a strong proponent of polling because I believe the media to be conservative (for the most part) and often polls are skewed to the right-center or right of any issue. Even so, the polling is interesting – even when you factor in a skew to the right:
40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.
68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision
about the economy. 41% think McCain would.
49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.
CNN went beyond that actually finding that Obama won on Iraq issues:
Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?
Who Would Better Handle Economy?
Who Would Better Handle Iraq?
Overall, I think Obama has a clear victory in this debate – even if you rank him equally with McCain on foreign policy (or close but behind McCain) the damage is there. McCain’s strongest perceived issue – foreign policy – was no knockout punch to Obama. In addition, with the economic turmoil facing the country right now, McCain seemed out of touch and vague on the details of both his support of the bailout plan and what he might do as President to fix the mess. In hindsight, leading a Republican House delegation to the White House to scuttle the bipartisan Senate agreement on the bailout plan probably was a gamble that only helped Obama and hurt McCain.
Seemingly above politics, Senator McCain vowed to suspend his campaign, travel back to Washington, and help lead the fight to straighten out the mess with the $700 Billion bailout. There was one small problem – he needlessly complicated matters instead of resolving issues.
Candidate McCain injected politics where they didn’t belong – in a national crisis. Obama, on the other hand, was reluctant to endorse the involvement of he and McCain directly in the meeting at the White House fearing that the temptation was too great to politicize the issue. He was right.
Yesterday, a bipartisan effort by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate produced a bill that both parties agreed to but contained important wording that the Democrats had demanded – to protect the American people – and not to simply “rescue” Wall Street. This bipartisan effort all parties agreed was needed – including candidate McCain – was thwarted at the last minute when McCain and House Republicans arrived at the White House.
McCain, who led a delegation of House Republicans to the White House meeting, proposed a completely different idea that the Senate Dems and Republicans had not seen or considered. McCain’s shameless actions helped throw a virtual agreement into shambles and helped interject just enough time to let yet another major financial institution fail: Washington Mutual.
McCain’s actions have further endangered the well-being of the economy, aided in the collapse of another major financial institution, and helped to further divide the House and Senate. Furthermore, in doing so, McCain was not even honest about his claims of suspending his campaign. According to the MSNBC, a check of all McCain campaign headquarters revealed that it was business as usual for the McCain campaign. None of the offices were closed and none of the advertising McCain claimed to have pulled from the airwaves was actually stopped.
This was pure political drama – plain and simple. John McCain should be ashamed of himself.
This is an enormously important issue demanding urgent action. All John McCain could do was attempt to politicize the issue for his own benefit.
NOTE: Refer to the interview with Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-Ill) explaining just what happened at the White House.
After 30 years of the Republican Party pushing deregulation, the events of the past few days have been nothing less than a full repudiation of the free market pundits. Free Market, for those that don’t know, is a euphamism for more deregulation, less accountability, and more profits – often – at consumers’ detriment and the corporation’s benefit. The vision that Ronald Reagan helped to embolden during his Presidency, and Republicans have pushed for more than 30 years, has led to the virtual collapse of the financial market in this country. Phrases like “black friday” and “worst condition since the great depression” have now been mentioned more frequently in the recent turmoil. Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, and Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are just the beginning. Although the government let Lehman Brothers fall, they are bailing out companies at a record cost to taxpayers and further helping to destabalize the economy in some respects. Republicans who decried the big government regulation of the past are now forced to see the fruit of their labors. Deregulation (er…I mean Free Market) has opened the way for risky investments by banks, insurance companies, and others which, in turn, has led to the subprime mortgage crisis. Now the deregulation proponents are actually advocating government intervention – now that deregulation has screwed up the economy. This is, of course, contrary to the Free Market pundits philosophy: let the market handle itself. Candidate McCain, a self-proclaimed “deregulator” has voted to support deregulation in every bill that asked for it for the past 26 years. In response to this crisis, however, McCain wants to clean up Wall Street. This is a bit like asking the fox to guard the hen house. McCain’s entire political career has supported deregulation. His attempts to appear as the agent of change is completely dubious. Let’s not forget, McCain is the man who hired a team of lobbyists to staff his campaign, was involved in the Keating 5 scandal, and incredibly, still considers the economy as strong. Given the state of the economy, the energy crisis, out of control spending for both wars, and a continued push for deregulation and lower taxes, it is time for a real change – not more of the same. McCain is absolutely more of the same. No doubt about it. Palin, it appears, it worse than McCain since she is to the right of Bush. It is time for all of our leaders to responsibly address this crisis and admit that deregulation is at the heart of the problem. John McCain, however, doesn’t see it that way – until forced to. He was against the AIG bailout and then for it. He was against regulation and then for it.
Why doesn’t John McCain see a problem with the economy? Maybe he does – but doesn’t want to admit culpability for his lifelong support of deregulation.
We’ve all seen the ads by now. If you have watched either the Democratic or Republican Conventions, you see Mr. Pickens ad several times. But the push for CNG is not the most optimal way to achieve energy independence. In fact, there are more efficient ways to rebuild or rearchitect a green energy policy. Solar power, wind power, and geothermal energy and three ways you could green our country, lower green house gases and do it much faster than T. Boone Pickens suggests with his push for CNG. After all, if we plan to – as Pickens suggests with his plan – to build out a new CNG supply line for consumer vehicles – why not build electrical charging stations across the country? Why not build electric or electric hybrid plugins instead of CNG powered vehicles? At least with electric vehicles, a majority of commuters who drive 40 miles a day, could plug in at home drive back and forth to work, and plug in again to end the work day.
In the short term, sure, there’d be some inconveniences with an electric car (limited range of charge, lack of areas to plug in, etc.). But at least with an electric car, you could plug in today, right now!!
This should be the bridge that Pickens refers to – instead of CNG.
But don’t take my word for it – research it for yourself like I did. Check out these web sites for more details:
And do a google search using:
+”electric car” +affordable
and you will find plenty of reading to keep you busy.