Bipartisanship

Three Profiles In Courage: John McCain Of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski Of Alaska, Susan Collins Of Maine

It is appropriate to salute three Republican Senators who stopped the destruction of ObamaCare, due to their feeling that despite the shortcomings of the program, that to just repeal it and leave millions of Americans with no health coverage was intolerable.

Senator John McCain of Arizona, a true independent and maverick, has often exasperated many political observers, and this blogger was upset earlier last week when McCain voted to promote votes on various alternatives, including repeal without replacement, but then voted to kill the idea once there was the opportunity to do so.

We now learn that former Vice President Joe Biden, a good friend, and former Senator Joe Lieberman, the Vice Presidential running mate of Al Gore in 2000, contacted McCain and convinced him that this was the right thing to do.

This kind of bipartisanship is precisely what is needed, and is missing from today’s political scence.

The courage of the two women Senators, who could not have alone stopped the Republican plan to destroy ObamaCare, must also be acknowledged, and sadly, some misogyny was utilized against them by the right wing, but Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska showed how principled and decent they were, and deserve great credit.

Both Collins and Murkowksi are tough, and they are not intimidated, with Collins having always been independent oriented, and Murkowski losing the party primary in 2010, running as a write in Independent candidate, and winning over her Republican and Democratic opponents, and then winning in 2016.

The outrage that the Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, at Donald Trump’s orders, threatened Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, the other Alaska Senator, with cuts in funding for Alaska in the Department budget did not intimidate Murkowski, as she postponed committee hearings and votes in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which she heads. She knows how to play Hardball, and Trump has met his match in her, as well as Collins.

Disappointing, however, was the third woman Senator thought united with them, Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, but caving in to pressure from Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, quite shocking since West Virginia has more people on Medicaid and in poverty than almost all states in America.

The Undermining Of Civility In America Long Lasting Damage, Setting Us Back From Progress Which Had Been Made In The 1950s, 1960s And 1970s

Civility is a lost art in America, with the two major political parties no longer able to work cooperatively for American advancement.

We now live in a society in which most people only read, watch, and listen to those who profess their religious and political beliefs.

A dialogue in which both sides respect their opponents is no longer conceivable, and one wonders what event will unite the American people and allow a return to reasonable discourse.

Will we ever have a President who is able to appeal across party lines and party beliefs?

In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, there was a lot more bipartisanship on many issues, and much more “crossing the aisle”, rather than straight party line votes.

Members of Congress used to spend weekends with “friends” and their families despite different party labels.

That sense of camaraderie and shared commitment to do what is good for the nation is totally gone in 2017.

“Bad Blood” is now the norm, with little interaction, and even basic courtesies and manners are no longer utilized.

After Seven Years, Republicans Seem Ready To Accept Reforms Of ObamaCare Through BiPartisan Deal With Democrats!

After seven years of constant and vehement opposition of Republicans to Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, it now seems as if the Republican Party in Congress is about ready to “throw in the towel”, and accept the continuation of ObamaCare with reforms and changes brought about by bipartisan cooperation with Democrats.

The statement of Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, conceding the likelihood of giving up the fight to obliterate ObamaCare, was a stunning moment of concession, and shows how the Republican Party is well aware of the impact of trying to end health care coverage for 20-30 million under ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion.

The fury of constituents at town halls is very clear, and is a sign that if enough reaction on any injustice can be promoted by those who want to prevent destructive action, it can actually lead to concessions.

But this also makes clear the total panic of the GOP about the upcoming midterm elections in 16 months, which could lead to a Democratic controlled House of Representatives.

There is even concern that the Republicans could lose the Senate, although that still seems a real long shot, as only 8 Republicans, compared to 25 Democrats, face election in 2018.

The only way possible for a Democratic controlled Senate in 2019-2020 would be if all 25 Democrats or their successors retained those seats, highly unlikely, and to win three of the eight GOP seats, but that would mean winning not only Dean Heller’s seat in Nevada and Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona, but also Ted Cruz’s seat in Texas.

To kick the obnoxious, egotistical, and arrogant Ted Cruz out of the Senate would be a major coup, but to expect it to occur is highly doubtful at this point.

All of the Senate seats will be discussed at the proper time over the next 16 months on this blog, but right now, the emphasis must be on the gaining of the House of Representatives, by winning 24 or more seats, and immediately, the retention of ObamaCare, with necessary reforms!

“No Labels” Convention Being Held Monday In New Hampshire To Promote Bipartisanship

Today, a convention under the name “No Labels Problem Solver Convention”  is being held in New Hampshire, promoted by former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman and former Democrat and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

The convention expects a thousand or more participants, including eight Presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Donald Trump and George Pataki.

The purpose is to promote bipartisanship, the dealing with important issues in a way that brings progress, rather than the constant deadlock now prevailing in our political system on the national level.

The convention is gaining attention of the news media, and it is hoped that it will lead to a new attitude that will benefit the nation at large.

The goals include the creation of 25 million new jobs over the next decade; making American energy secure by 2024; protecting Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years; and balancing the federal budget by 2030.

This is the time to unite around a future which avoids confrontational scenes like we are now seeing from the so called “Freedom Caucus” of Republicans in the House of Representatives!

The Importance Of Maintaining A Democratic Senate Majority

Many people, who do not understand the importance of midterm elections, have wondered whether it makes any difference if we have a Democratic Senate or a Republican Senate.

There are many reasons why it is extremely crucial that the Democrats retain the Senate, since it is clear that the Republicans will keep control of the House of Representatives, and may gain more seats, and go from a 233-199 (with three vacancies) total to over 240, due to gerrymandering, and the power of incumbency.

A Democratic Senate gives Barack Obama the chance to gain a new Supreme Court Justice of his own choice, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg or any other Justice decides to retire in the next two years, or if any Justice should die while a member of the Court. Also, ability to have circuit and district court judges, and cabinet positions, and other appointments approved would be very difficult if the GOP controlled the Senate.

A Democratic Senate prevents any serious move toward a likely impeachment of Barack Obama, as the Republicans would see no point to doing it, if there was no chance of a conviction, which in reality would not happen in any case, as it would require a two thirds (67) vote to convict and remove. The Republicans might be fully aware that it would not succeed, but might wish to besmirch the historical record of Obama, much as they did with Bill Clinton in 1998-1999.

A Democratic Senate insures that in two years, with two thirds of the seats up for election being Republicans, that the Democrats would likely gain 6-8 seats, and might, in 2017, reach the magic number of 60 or more, preventing any possible use of the filibuster tactic.

A Democratic Senate would insure the survival of ObamaCare, and the inability of any further move to destroy this signature program. Additionally, attempts to reverse other changes and reforms that have occurred would be impossible, all to the good.

A Democratic Senate would make it unnecessary for President Obama to utilize the veto power, which he has used very sparingly in his time in office.

A Democratic Senate would mean that the Republican Party had lost its last opportunity to gain control of both Houses, and in 2016, with a strong Democratic nominee for President, and the likelihood of coattail effects in those states that are “blue” or “purple”, would likely lead to a flip in the House to Democratic control, and the GOP would never again, any time soon, gain control of either House of Congress, as they have shown no desire to deal with the important issues that face the nation in domestic policy, and refusal to support Barack Obama in foreign policy, having abandoned the long held view of a sense of bipartisanship when dealing with the world and its problems.

A Rare Moment Of Bipartisanship: Marsha Blackburn-Carol Maloney Promotion Of A National Women’s History Museum In Washington, DC!

Lo and behold, a sign of bipartisanship on an idea that may seem minor to the less informed, but is a wonderful idea: the establishment of a National Women’s History Museum on the Mall in Washington, DC!

It is a pleasure to announce that Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Democratic Congresswoman Carol Maloney of New York are co-sponsoring legislation to provide for the building of one more museum in or near the Mall in Washington, DC, a museum that is urgently needed to record and commemorate the tremendous contributions and sacrifices of women in American history, who have helped to advance American democracy!

This is long overdue, as we have a national museum for Native Americans, as well as the progress on the African American museum, and a few years ago, the Museum of American Jewish History was opened in Philadelphia, and will demand a visit from this author in the spring of 2014.

There is also a Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum, but there is no Museum for Asian Americans which incorporates all Asian groups.

There is a push for a National Museum of the American Latino, but there is also discussion of a National Immigration Museum, which might usurp such a initiative, as too many museums and not enough space in DC, forcing it to be elsewhere as the Jewish Museum and Japanese American National Museums already are.

Even if not all of the museums can find a home in the nation’s capital, it is important to commemorate the contributions of all of the varied groups which have made America what it is, a melting pot of the world’s ethnicities!

And while we are at it, how about a National Labor History Museum to commemorate the sacrifices of the working men and women who have made this country what it is, and deserve proper recognition as well?

Bipartisan Budget Bill First In 15 Years, And Tea Party Radicals Are Outraged!

The Paul Ryan-Patty Murray bipartisan budget deal, while far from perfect, is the first cooperation on formulation of the budget in the past 15 years.

Liberal Democrats are furious that unemployment compensation has not been extended, and that food stamps seem to be about to have a major budget cut, totally unacceptable on moral grounds.

But the deal also prevents a government shutdown and constant budget crises every few months, a reality which infuriates the Tea Party radicals.

So there is a live rebellion in both parties, but the greater one is between House leaders, including Speaker John Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, against large elements of their own party, and strong opposition from Tea Party Senators, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio,along with Tom Coburn, and reportedly, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, who is facing a Tea Party primary for his seat in Kentucky next year.

No one can be happy that those most needy are going to be ignored by the Scrooges of the Republican Party, but to see Boehner and Ryan being attacked by fellow Republicans, and the Presidential race playing into it, is an amazing event to watch.

Paul Ryan, IF he wishes to be President, will be attacked by Paul, Cruz, Rubio and others for his willingness to make a bipartisan deal, far from ideal, but just the fact of BIPARTISANSHIP drives the right wing and its advocacy groups and its talk show hosts bonkers!

Disgraceful Action By Republicans Against Former Republican Colleague, Chuck Hagel, Demonstrates Mistake Democrats Made In Refusing To Reform Filibuster!

The Republican Senate minority has reached a new low, in rejecting former colleague, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, for Secretary of Defense, as a measure of spite against Hagel for backing Barack Obama in 2008, criticizing the George W. Bush “surge” in Iraq in 2007, and the exploitation of the Benghazi, Libya tragedy as a means to smack the President directly!

Hagel is perfectly qualified to be Secretary of Defense, and to have utilized the filibuster as a means to deny a vote, is reprehensible beyond description! Even Senator John Tower of Texas, a George H. W. Bush appointment as Secretary of Defense in 1989, while rejected for that position in 1989 over womanizing and liquor abuses, had the dignity of going down in an actual vote, rather than the prevention of such a vote, through the dastardly misuse of the filibuster tactic!

The Democrats and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada had a opportunity to change the filibuster rules, and had no guts or courage, and this is the disastrous result!

The Democrats need to learn to play hardball, since the Republicans fail to understand anything else! They should be ashamed at their weakness, and the Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, once again, prove how unprincipled and despicable they are in their “war” on the Obama Administration! They have no common decency, and it is clear that any attempt at bipartisanship over the next two years is out of the question!

So Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who already has had a farewell at the Pentagon, will have to stay on longer, until another attempt at overcoming the filibuster on Hagel is attempted, or Hagel withdraws, and another individual is selected to head the Defense Department.

“Crossing The Aisle”: BiPartisanship Of America’s Presidents From FDR To Obama

A common theme in American history is the “crossing of the aisle”, the bipartisanship encouraged by just about every American President, and the utilizing of leaders of the opposition party to help make his administration successful.

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry Stimson as his Secretary of War from 1940-45, with Stimson having served as Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover. He also had Frank Knox as Secretary of the Navy from 1940-1944, who had been the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 1936.

Harry Truman had Warren Austin as his United Nations Ambassador from 1947 to 1953.

Dwight D. Eisenhower had Robert Anderson in various roles, as Secretary of the Navy, Deputy Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of the Treasury, during his eight years in office from 1953 to 1961.

John F. Kennedy had Robert McNamara as his Secretary of Defense and D. Douglas Dillon as his Secretary of the Treasury and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (who he had defeated for the Senate in 1952, as his Ambassador to South Vietnam.

Lyndon B. Johnson kept on McNamara, Dillon and Lodge as close advisers in his administration, after he succeeded to the Presidency upon Kennedy’s death.

Richard Nixon had Sargent Shriver as Ambassador to France, John Connally as Secretary of the Treasury, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan as Ambassador to India.

Gerald Ford had Moynihan stay on as Ambassador to India, and then as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Jimmy Carter had James Schlesinger as Secretary of Energy, and Lawrence Eagleburger as Ambassador to Yugoslavia.

Ronald Reagan has Mike Mansfield at Ambassador to Japan, Jeane Kirkpatrick as Ambassador to the United Nations, William Bennett as Secretary of Education, and Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

George H. W. Bush had Richard Stone as Ambassador to Denmark, and Robert Strauss as Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

Bill Clinton had Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve and William Cohen as Secretary of Defense.

George W. Bush had Norman Mineta as Secretary of Transportation.

And Barack Obama has had Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation, Jon Huntsman as Ambassador to China, John McHugh as Secretary of the Army, Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and now has pending the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.

Notice that Obama has had more members of the opposition party in his administration than any President!

Bipartisanship Of The Past: Why Not Now?

When one looks at American history in previous recent decades, one sees so much evidence of bipartisanship between Republicans and Democrats, and one wonders why that is not possible now in the interests of the nation!

Witness the following examples:

1962–John F. Kennedy calls upon Dwight D. Eisenhower for help and counsel during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

1963–Lyndon B. Johnson becomes President after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and calls upon Dwight D. Eisenhower for advice in a moment of crisis.

1964–President Lyndon B. Johnson calls upon Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois to help push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1983—President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill work together on Social Security reform and get it passed.

1990s—Democratic Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia works with Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana on arms control legislation, lessening the dangers of nuclear war after the end of the Cold War.

2000s—Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona works with Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin on passage of campaign finance reform legislation.

2001—Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts works with President George W. Bush on education reform.

Instead of publicly calling for the move to make Barack Obama a one term President, as Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky enunciated in 2009, or Speaker of the House John Boehner to use foul language against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and to say he refuses to have any more private meetings with President Barack Obama, what we need is mutual respect, and willingness to cooperate!

And this includes the idea that both Republicans and Democrats need to “cross the aisle”, and stop vilifying each other as the “devil”, as this prevents doing what is good for the American people!

The country is sick of the partisan wrangling and the lack of respect and dignity displayed, and is calling for Congress to act like adults and to work cooperatively with the President, who always has an open minded attitude toward discussion and compromise within reason!