Archive for January, 2010
The Republican party showed some realism and common sense this weekend by refusing to adopt a conservative litmus test, a “purity test”, on GOP candidates for office this coming November.
By so doing, they have improved their chances of appealing to the mainstream voters of this country, but it would also help if candidates like Charlie Crist in Florida and John McCain in Arizona accomplish victories in their Senate races over Marco Rubio and J. D. Hayworth, who are appealing to ideological conservatives and Freedom Works/ Tea Party activists.
The Republican party, at least officially, is trying to steer clear of control by or obedience to the above named fringe groups, as alliance with them too directly would be likely to be the death knell for the Republicans as a party that can appeal to some Democrats, independents, and centrists.
However, it is still reality that RNC Chairman Michael Steele remains a burden on the party structure with his loose mouth and confrontational attitude toward the news media. It would be hard to fire him, however, as that would make the party look bad dismissing its African American leader, but he certainly is not likely to attract any minority support to the party because he does not represent more than a miniscule percentage of the African American community.
President Obama took a courageous step on Friday, when he appeared before the House GOP retreat in Baltimore, defended his record, and took questions for almost an hour.
He put on a maestro performance, and showed that the Republicans had the opportunity to promote health care reform when they controlled the Congress for twelve years, with six of those under a Republican President, and yet did not, but now claim they have plans for health care reform, although they have refused to cooperate with Obama in any way on the subject.
He also pointed out that Bob Dole, former Kansas Senator, Senate Majority Leader, and 1996 Republican Presidential nominee, had endorsed much of the Obama health care plan when it was first introduced last year. Also, former Tennesee Senator , Senate Majority Leader, and candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1980 and 1988–Howard Baker–had also supported the basic elements of the administration’s health care reform in 2009.
What Obama was implying is that in the past, there were reasonable Republicans who were moderates and worked toward cooperation and bipartisanship, rather than total opposition and confrontation as the present Republican party is engaged in on not just health care, but also education loan programs, job creation, global warming, economic stimulus, and really everything else imaginable!
Watching this equivalent of the British House of Commons question and answer session for the Prime Minister, it seems to me that it might be a good idea for every President to schedule this kind of session at least once a year to defend his program and be challenged directly by the opposition.
The only problem is that it would be hard to imagine George W. Bush being able to do this in front of a Democratic gathering and come across as legitimate and capable. Some Presidents would have a rough time, as they do not have the knowledge and speaking presentation that Barack Obama has.
While of course there will be partisan review of this event, it seems clear to neutral observers that the President came across as having legitimized and improved his standing and defense on the issues, and that the House Republicans came across as overly preaching rather than asking questions, looking to make points which have no validity but sound good as sound bytes. Their long introductions to their questions became very obviously a propaganda moment, but the President deftly handled them and responded in an assertive but good natured way, with his brilliant smile and charm always evident.
This was not an equal bout, with about 140 or more Republicans against one President. It only made the GOP look more ridiculous, more negative, more confrontational, more a party without any solutions, but instead catch words and propaganda lines that will not solve the problems of the economy or the American people.
And the more that the Republican party caters to the Freedom Works and Tea Party crowd, which is more extreme with elements of anarchism and implied hatred, racism, and violence, the more they will lose any chance to gain mainstream voters. As Barack Obama said, rhetoric that is extreme makes it hard to work together, and to unify to deal with the massive problems the nation faces.
So the ultimate reality is that moderation is the way for the GOP to go, and if they do that, they have a far better chance of making a contribution, and of eventually regaining respectability and the possibility of being given responsibility to run the government and do the people’s business!
The Republicans in the Senate are at it again, blocking funding and lending legislation for education, with their ability to demand a super majority of 60 votes for any legislation to be considered.
The Obama Administration is attempting to have the Education Department take over student lending from private banks, which they estimate would save over $80 billion over the next ten years, with that money being utilized for community college expansion, early childhood education, more student lending, and other programs.
A decision is needed in time for the new academic year lending, which starts July 1, but the Republicans are insisting that the private banks be kept in the program, even though it costs students a lot more interest on their loans.
This is another example of how the threat of the filibuster is stifling action in the Senate, and is being utilized in an irresponsible way by the minority party. Reconciliation, requiring only 51 votes, may have to be attempted on this, as well as the health care legislation to stop the bottleneck of a minority party determined to prevent any action or accomplishments by the President of the other party. It is indeed an infuriating situation!
President Obama’s administration is making a major commitment to high speed rail systems in different parts of the country, a good investment in the future, and also a method to help create job growth in a way that benefits everyone.
These high speed rail systems will be built between Tampa, Orlando and probably Miami; Chicago to St. Louis; Sacramento to Los Angeles and San Diego; Boston to New York; and New York to Washington, DC–all of these major centers of population and large scale automobile traffic.
It should be obvious that local and state officials should fully back these investments, but an example of the continued partisanship and pettiness that goes on is the fact that when President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared in Tampa, no Republican state or local officials showed up, even though this investment is good for the state’s future and many Republicans had been supportive of such a venture in the past. This is an example of total hypocrisy that turns the average American off to the whole political game in Washington, DC!
The decision of a Kansas jury to convict the killer of an abortion doctor took only 37 minutes, and it should have taken five minutes!
Scott Roeder, an anti abortion fanatic who felt he had the right to kill an abortion doctor, George Tiller, because he personally opposes abortion, is a heinous act that should be punished by life imprisonment without parole, nothing less!
Many people are morally opposed to the concept of abortion, and that can be understood, but like it or not, it is a legal procedure permitted by the Supreme Court in Roe V. Wade in 1973.
If that decision was ever to be reversed, which is highly unlikely, abortions would still take place, but cause more pregnant women to die unnecessarily. Whether one agrees or disagrees with abortion, no one has the right to use his or her opposition to justify acts of violence!
This quick decision, hopefully, will deter future such crimes from occurring.
Great news has been announced by the government this morning, indicating that we have witnessed the fastest growth quarter in six years in the last three months of 2009.
The economy grew by an annualized 5.7 percent, way above what was expected, and far better than the annualized 2.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009.
The biggest fear, however, is that we could be in the midst of what economists call a “jobless” economic recovery, so there is a great need for an aggressive job creation program this year, but one wonders if the opposition Republican party will work to undermine such an event by lack of legislative support, particularly in the Senate. Let’s hope they do what is right for the American people!
Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, appointed in 2005 by President Bush, to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, acted totally inappropriate at the State Of The Union Address by President Obama on Wednesday night.
When Obama criticized the recent Supreme Court decision on unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns, reversing the McCain-Feingold Act and numerous other campaign finance laws that in some cases have been part of the law for a century, Justice Alito nodded “no” in a persistent and continuous manner and mouthed the words “Not true”, knowing full well that he was on camera and would be noticed.
For a Supreme Court Justice to do this is actually worse than even Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina yelling “You lie!”, when the President spoke before Congress last fall on health care reform.
We have a right to expect better public behavior by a Supreme Court Justice than we saw on the part of Alito. Of course, there is an explanation for his behavior. Obama voted against Alito for his Court seat in 2005, and apparently Alito never recovered from that, as when the President elect visited the Supreme Court a few days before the inauguration last year, all of the sitting Supreme Court Justices were there to greet him, EXCEPT Alito. So it is obvious he holds grudges, not exactly professional conduct on Alito’s part.
Imagine that Sandra Day O’Connor had not retired when she did, due to her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimers disease, from which he recently died. If she had stayed on the Court, this disgraceful Supreme Court decision on corporate spending on campaigns would have ended up 5-4 against the change, rather than 5-4 in favor.
How much a single vote and a single member of the Supreme Court matters!
The Republican party has become more obstructionist under Barack Obama than they have ever been at any other time under any other Democratic President, and this has soured a lot of Americans who watched their facial expressions, their body language, and their refusal to give him any applause when he called for steps toward creating jobs, promoting small business, and saving community banks in his State of the Union address last night.
It is as if they want the country to fail, so that they can gain politically, putting their own narrow party interests and political power positions ahead of what is good and essential for the country at large.
They seem not to have any human compassion, any concern for those who are hurting, and would rather impose an ideological test on Republicans who run for office, therefore threatening such moderates as Charlie Crist in Florida and even John McCain in Arizona.
Their flirtation with the extremist Tea Party Movement and former Congressman Dick Armey’s Freedom Works movement will destroy this proud party that once stood for good things and good instincts under Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and even at times, under Ronald Reagan.
Their negative message and lack of respect for President Obama will, in the long run, reverberate against them, even though Democrats worry about the midterm election. But it is hard to conceive of the country giving control of Congress to the party that has no message and no leadership and shows no commitment or principles that can offer hope for the future!
President Obama made clear tonight in his State of the Union Address that the number one priority for 2010 is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!
He called for a quick adoption of a jobs legislation program, and he well knows that if the job situation does not improve, it will affect his party and his own agenda, so the expectation is that he will be very aggressive in pursuit of economic growth.
He called on the Republican opposition to drop partisanship and join together in the creation of economic plans that will benefit not only those who gain employment, but the nation at large.
This is truly time to drop partisanship and do the right thing–back the President in the creation of economic opportunity that will lead us back to prosperity!
A high moment of tonight’s State of the Union Address was when President Obama made it clear he was not going to abandon the health care plan that has been subject to debate for nearly a year.
He said he was not promoting health care to win the point of a victory, but rather because of the necessity for the American people to have equal access to health care after so many years of advocacy of such a reform by various Presidents.
He came across as pleasant but aggressive in his pursuit of his goal, an absolutely appropriate reaction, which gives heart and optimism to those millions of Americans who have believed in this health care reform and were concerned that the President might abandon the legislation.
Obama showed he was a good guy but a fighting President for what he believed in, and this speech should restore the faith of millions of Americans in why they elected him the 44th President in 2008. He represented change and is not backing off on that one iota! Hooray!