Archive for February, 2010
It used to be that the office of governor of any state was a prestigious position sought by many ambitious politicians, who saw it as a place to serve, make a difference, and possibly seek higher office, including the Presidency, after years of devoted service.
The governorship has been the primary background for the American Presidency, and many governors have also served in the US Senate or as cabinet officers, and some, like Earl Warren of California, on the Supreme Court.
But the glorious days of being governor have passed, as it has become, in these difficult economic times, a thankless job, so much so that one wonders why anyone seeks the position.
And on top of that, we have seen scandal in the governorship on a level unseen before. Think of the list of disgraced governors of recent times, including, among others, Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, Eliot Spitzer of New York, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, John Rowland of Connecticut, and Bob Taft of Ohio.
While we have had four governors in recent times in the White House (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush), it is hard to see any governor of recent times being able to make that leap to the Presidency.
Difficult economic times have made life difficult for Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, both born outside the United States, so not eligible for the Presidency, in any case.
Rick Perry of Texas is in a struggle for another term, but even if he were to win, his statements about secession would seemingly eliminate him from a serious quest for the Presidency, and there have been ethical questions about his long ten year tenure in the governorship.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist is also in the battle for his life in the Senate race against Marco Rubio, and at this point seems unlikely to be in office beyond the end of his term as governor.
The fact that past governors Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas failed in their quest for the Presidency in 2008, and the controversies around former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, make it seem unlikely they have a future beyond their former offices.
Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota are worth watching, but it is hard to imagine them accomplishing their immediate or long range goals of living in the White House.
Finally, the new revelations about New York Governor David Paterson, who succeeded to the governorship due to the scandal surrounding Eliot Spitzer, is only the latest blow to the stature of the governorship office, not only in New York, but nationwide.
This is very disappointing, as to many, being governor is the position that best prepares someone for the challenges of the Presidency. This is part of the general disillusionment that so many Americans have about their government at all levels, and will not be overcome any time soon!
The Republican National Committee has chosen three finalists to compete for the Republican National Convention in 2012.
Two of the three choices seem to make no sense, as the location of the national convention should be designed to gain support in a state which is competitive for the Presidential election.
Under that standard, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, while rapidly growing cities in the Mountain and Desert West, make no sense as hosts, as neither Arizona nor Utah are in contention for the electoral vote. Utah is reliably Republican on a consistent basis, and Arizona, even with a growing Hispanic population, cannot be seen as prime territory for Democratic gains in the future.
On the other hand, Tampa, Florida makes a lot of sense as the host for the GOP convention, in a state that is definitely in play, with President Obama having won it in 2008, but a state that has usually voted Republican in the past, and is likely to be one of the major battlegrounds of the next presidential election. Also, Florida, as the fourth largest state, has a much larger pool of voters to campaign for, than Arizona or Utah.
So if the Republicans are smart, they will choose Tampa as the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention!
A new political movement has emerged in opposition to the Tea Party Movement, which is clearly a right wing activist organization.
This progressive movement is called the Coffee Party Movement, which calls for cooperation in government; sees the federal government not as the enemy but rather the expression of the collective will of the American people; and calls for participation in the political system to address the challenges that the country faces. The movement calls for supporting leaders who promote positive views and programs, and to hold obstructionists accountable for their negativism and opposition.
The Coffee Party is gaining support in 30 states at this time, and it has emerged on Facebook with a growing number of followers. Plans are being made to have a national march or conference this summer.
The one thing that stands out about both the Tea Party and Coffee Party Movements is that that they are encouraging ordinary citizens into political action, which is good for the promotion of our democratic system of government.
But the Coffee Party has a positive, optimistic side to it, which is definitely much more appealing! There is a lot about the Tea Party Movement which is very ugly and scary, encouraging extremist conspiracy theories and hate of government, as if we can do without government!
Senator Jim Bunning: A Disgraceful, Despicable Action To Block Unemployment Compensation And COBRA Extension! :(
Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky already has a reputation in the chamber, even among his fellow Republicans, of being a “problem”, an embarrassment, and as one of the absolutely worst senators in the history of the United States!
He has used foul language, been totally uncooperative even with the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian, and people have wondered about his mental alertness and sanity.
The fact that he finally chose not to run for reelection is a blessing for his party, but now even in his last months, he has chosen to use “senatorial privilege” to block an extension of unemployment beliefs and COBRA health care for the most desperate among us, the long term unemployed. He is another one of those senators who loves to quote religious themes, and yet he is willing to promote a direct assault on those in our society who are the most unfortunate!
The basis of him, all alone, stopping extension, is that the cost of the extension must be paid for, which certainly makes sense, but the fact that he voted to support two wars that have destroyed our budgetary balance, plus voted for both Bush tax cuts to the rich, makes him a total hypocrite now, when the most downcast in our society are in need!
Jim Bunning may have been a great baseball player with the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1950s and 1960s, who ended up in the Hall of Fame, the only baseball player to have done that and been in the Senate. But in his nastiness and mean spiritedness now demonstrated, yet again, he is certainly no Hall of Famer in politics!
I have not had the chance yet to watch the six to seven hours of the Health Care Summit at Blair House, but I have seen excerpts of it online, and it is clear that some news media have painted President Obama’s participation in a very distorted manner!
According to Rush Limbaugh early yesterday afternoon, Obama had pursed lips and was angry at House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, who read from portions of the congressional bills while having them stacked in front of his face to demonstrate the size in pages of the bills.
When John McCain complained about the unfairness of the bill to his constituents in Arizona as compared to Florida and other states, Obama was depicted in news reports as involved in an angry response to his former rival, declaring that the election was over, and it was time to do something on the issue of health reform for the American people, rather than harp on the process!
Having seen these excerpts, I fail to see the portrayal of Obama as anywhere near accurate!
Obama was simply making clear that the desire of the Republicans to destroy all of the many hours of work on health care would not be allowed to occur!
When one realizes that there were hundreds of briefings; dozens of caucus meetings; hundreds of hours of hearings; many weeks of markups in five committees; 25 days of consecutive Senate meetings in the month of December; sixty full hours of Senate debate after cloture was voted twice; and that it passed both Houses once already;–when is enough enough? It is time for action to cut down the unnecessary 45,000 deaths a year caused by lack of health care coverage for millions of Americans!
President Obama was simply being assertive and firm, and acting like a leader. This is his challenge to show leadership in a similar way that John F. Kennedy showed toward the steel industry in 1962; that Dwight D. Eisenhower demonstrated in the Little Rock intervention in 1957; that Lyndon Johnson made clear in the fight over the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and that many other Presidents who have been seen as successful have had to demonstrate!
The propaganda machine churns on, but it is clear that President Obama handled himself very well at the Health Care Summit, and that soon, the Democrats will move to final action on the Health Care Reform Act of 2010!
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC has been exposing over the past few months the tale of the C Street Center in Washington, DC. Other news organizations have also been examining this strange combination of politics and religion in what is clearly a corrupt manner!
Now a group of ministers have lodged a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service about this so called center on Capitol Hill that offers inexpensive lodging and meals for conservative Christians who serve in the Congress, but yet claims to be a church with the entitlement of tax exempt status.
The town house Center is an affiliate of a secretive international Christian network called the “Fellowship” or “Family”.
Among the activities of this group are to cultivate ties with political leaders, military figures, and business people, but they also gave advice and counsel to leaders in Uganda who have been pushing for punishment and death for gays in that country via the passage of legislation outlawing homosexuality.
This group also sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast held in the nation’s capital and many state capitals every February, so obviously this “Fellowship” or “Family” wields great clout.
But some of its membership in the center, mostly conservative Republicans, have become involved in scandalous love affairs, including former Congressman and present Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Senator John Ensign of Nevada, and former Mississippi Congressman Charles Pickering.
There is a general tone of corruption and manipulation about the C Street Center and the group which sponsors it and has tax exempt status, and it is essential to have the IRS fully investigate it, and for a congressional probe as well, if only the Congress has the courage to look at a case tying together politics and religion in an unethical manner!
As the Health Care Summit is about to occur on Thursday, it is clear that the Obama Administration intends to use “reconciliation” if the Republicans refuse to budge on the issue, which is seen as extremely likely.
The statement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that such action would be “unprecedented” is pure propaganda, as it has been used under earlier Presidents.
But also research shows that the Children’s Health Care program and expansion of Medicaid to more children, and many other extensions of Medicare coverage have been brought about by “reconciliation” since the Reagan Administration onward.
So after the summit tomorrow, IF the GOP refuses to cooperate, it is time to follow that tactic, and if need be, use Vice President Joe Biden to break a tie, as Al Gore broke a tie on the Clinton economic plan in 1993, which led to the greatest period of economic expansion in US History in the 1990s.
Enough of bipartisanship, which requires both parties to cooperate! If the Republicans don’t, then do what must be done to extend health care to many millions of Americans who are entitled to have the same access to health care that Dick Cheney and Bob Dole are receiving right now!
The US Senate is a very prestigious body, which has done great things and had great members in its 221 year history.
But now the Senate is an impediment like no other time in US History! While the filibuster tactic has been used in the past, it is totally out of control now, and has paralyzed the Senate!
The astounding fact is that the House of Representatives has passed 290 bills that are stuck in the Senate logjam! Of course, not all bills which pass the House are meant to be passed in the Senate. The Senate acts appropriately as the brakes on actions of the House.
But this is not just the application of “brakes”, but rather the total inability of the Senate to do anything of significance, due to opposition stubbornness and partisanship!
Since “reconciliation”–establishing a bare majority of 51 votes to get things done–has been utilized by President Bush to get his tax cuts through, and for President Clinton to use it for welfare reform legislation in the mid 1990s, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot be utilized now to get climate change, health care, bank regulation, and other essential legislation through the Senate!
Let the Senate majority do its will, and then, it is up to the people if they do not like what is done, to go ahead and take it out on the Democrats and put the GOP in power. But America should be governed by the rule of the majority, not the minority!
So reconciliation is what must be done, whether the Republican party likes it or not! It is time for action on those 290 bills pending!
Two of the leading Republican party figures of the past thirty years are now in the hospital recovering from crisis health conditions, and they are receiving the best possible health care, and that is a good thing!
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, 69, suffered his fifth heart attack since the age of 37. Former Senator Bob Dole, 86, who ran for President in 1996 and Vice President in 1976, and served as Senate Majority Leader in the past, had knee surgery and is recovering from Pneumonia.
Hopefully, both men will have a speedy recovery, and despite those who would have disagreements with both of them, and particularly Cheney, any decent person would wish them well.
But the point is, why should not all of the American people be entitled to good health care, when we are paying for their health care? This is a question of fairness and equity!
This past weekend, we saw some interesting commentary by General David Petraeus and former General Colin Powell.
Both made it clear that they did not believe that utilizing torture, such as water boarding, and the abuse at Abu Graib prison in Iraq, had been productive and wise. Both also believe that abandonment of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is very likely in the future, and neither expressed opposition to this changed attitude toward gays in the military.
In so stating their thoughts, both of these prestigious generals contradicted the statements of two leading Republicans, former Vice President Dick Cheney and 2008 Republican Presidential nominee and Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Cheney continues to uphold the use of torture as a viable method, and McCain continues to uphold continuing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the armed forces.
Interesting point, though, is that McCain’s opposition to open gays in the military is opposed by one of his closest friends in the Senate, Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who was on McCain’s short list for Vice President.
Lieberman, who already has angered Democrats for his opposition to health care reform, seemingly is trying to repair his ties to the party ahead of his election campaign for his seat in 2012. But also, one must remember that in many ways, Joe Lieberman IS a true Independent, as his voting record is indeed difficult to label!