Day: March 2, 2009

The Hypocritical Debate over Earmarks

The whole earmark debate is so much hypocrisy.  When the Republicans controlled Congress for 12 years, they had no problem promoting pet projects to improve the economic and social conditions in their congressional districts and states.  Now that the Democrats have regained control, suddenly it is the crime of the century, even though many Republicans are also getting projects for their districts and states.

People have seemed to forget that one of the roles of members of Congress is to provide for their district’s needs, which includes public works projects, and educational, medical and cultural improvements.  Everyone wants public programs in their district or state, but not anywhere else.  If these activities were to stop completely, the country internally would suffer greatly and never improve its base.  But of course, when there are cost overruns on defense projects, that is dismissed as the cost of doing business.

Pushing earmarks through to law makes more sense than pushing favors for wealthy corporations and banks and failing to promote proper regulations for the benefit of the American middle and lower classes.  Earmarks or "pork" or whatever other term is used in the past or present are part of what the American political system is all about. 

Senator John McCain, the Military Leaders and President Obama’s Plans on Iraq

Senator John McCain of Arizona, who lost to Barack Obama in last fall’s presidential race, and who has been critical of the President’s Economic Stimulus bill, has surprised a lot of people by endorsing Obama’s plan to end America’s combat role in Iraq by August 31, 2010.

Additionally, the Joint Chiefs of Staff leader, Michael Mullin, has been on Sunday interview shows, making clear that the military are fully behind the President’s plans to end combat in 2010. 

Considering that McCain and the military leaders publicly supported President Bush’s surge in 2007-2008, and that McCain ran on that issue against Obama, it can be said that this turn around is surprising.

I suppose that one could say that the military are required publicly to back the defense policies of the Commander in Chief, but it just makes one wonder how much of the public backing of the Bush surge was real, and how much of it was just being obedient soldiers. 

In any case, as McCain and the military top brass switch around their positions, one can only be cynical and say that the whole Iraq war situation was simply "politics" at the expense of the lives and health of so many young Americans.  This also means President Obama needs to rethink the wisdom of a so called "surge" in Afghanistan, which over this past weekend, Conservative Prime Minister Steven Harper of Canada stated has no chance of changing the situation on the ground in that war torn nation which has successfully in the past held off the British and the Russians and, for the past seven years, the NATO forces.

Republican Leaders and Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh went on a verbal rampage at the CPAC conference on Saturday.  He emphasized his hope that the Obama Presidency would fail, despite the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  He was also critical of Republican leadership by name.

Interestingly, he has been criticized by several GOP leaders, but then apologized to by those same Republicans.   This began a few weeks ago when Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey decided to make up to Limbaugh for statements critical of him.  Now it is Republican National Chairman Michael Steele,  a humiliating act by the RNC chairman, which makes him far less credible in the rebuilding of the Republican party.  House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia have also been critical of Limbaugh, but have not been willing so far to back off in a public way as did Gingrey and Steele.

When will the Republicans realize that backing off in criticism and apologizing, or even trying to avoid being critical of Limbaugh, is a losing proposition when it comes to public opinion?  Of course, there is that core base of Republicans who adore Rush Limbaugh and always will.  But there is no practical way that the Republican party can revive to become a serious competition to the Democrats if they tie their future to Limbaugh and other right wing whackos!  The country has clearly repudiated the Reagan-Bush years,  and the present obstructionism of President Obama’s programs by the GOP in Congress has not registered well in public opinion polls. You can fool some of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time;  but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.  Conservative values only have a following in the Old South, Appalachia, the Great Plains (and even there not completely) and among religious evangelicals who seem to think that Jesus Christ would be a conservative Republican if he was an American, an idea that is totally delusional.

The Republicans who want to see their party succeed MUST repudiate the right wing and the religious zealots or,  some time soon, the Republican party will pass away, replaced by talk radio hosts and their ilk, who will never be able to capture the country.  The time to make the Republican party the broad based party that it needs to be to regain power is an urgency right now.  However, in reality, that looks unlikely to happen any time soon.  The GOP seems to have suicidal tendencies!