Day: August 1, 2011

A Profile In Courage: Gabrielle Giffords Comes Back To Congress After Assassination Attempt!

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in an assassination attempt in Tucson in January, made an heroic return to the House of Representatives tonight to cast her vote for the Debt Ceiling bill.

It was a dramatic moment, one of the few where there was bipartisan cheering and applauding, and there was not a dry eye in the chamber or by those watching at home, including the author.

Gabrielle Giffords is a true profile in courage, a miracle case of how a person shot in the head, under some circumstances, can recover and function even just seven months after the tragic event.

IF only the unity she brought to the House of Representatives briefly could carry over, but of course, that sadly is NOT going to happen!

The Classic Hamilton-Jefferson Struggle To Be Reenacted In The Presidential Election Of 2012!

America’s political party struggles began in the Federalist Era of the 1790s, when the Federalists formed under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, and the Democratic Republicans were created under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton backed more national government and a broad interpretation of the Constitution, and Jefferson spoke up for more state and local government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

As the centuries went by, and the political party system continued to evolve under different names, leaders, and issues, the classic Hamilton-Jefferson split continued to control our politics.

And now, the Hamilton-Jefferson split of more than two centuries duration, will have a classic confrontation in 2012, and it is actually much more important for the future of the nation than any election since 1964, when Barry Goldwater challenged Lyndon B. Johnson!

The debate in 2012 will be more important because of the split nature of our government presently, and the fact that this election is the culmination of 30 years of government dominated by conservatives.

Will we decide to cut down the size of the federal government dramatically and go back to the concept of states rights? What federal government responsibilities will be farmed back to the states, or into the hands of those who want privatization? How shall we deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which led to bigger national government and more federal government responsibilities? How shall America deal with the world outside at a time of the growing influence of China, India, and Brazil in economic affairs? What should be the future of constitutional law, based to a great extent on appointment of Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges? How should the office of the Presidency develop in the future, and should his powers be brought under greater control by Congress and the courts?

These are among the questions that 2012 will decide, and the results will be much more important than just typically. The future of the Republic is at stake!

With Exception Of Jon Huntsman, Republican Presidential Candidates Ally With Tea Party Movement In Opposition To Debt Ceiling Legislation

The Republicans in the House of Representatives were able to gain the backing of three fourths of their membership on the Debt Ceiling legislation tonight, losing the remainder, who were the Tea Party radicals who held America hostage with their recklessness!

But despite this reality, ALL of the Republican Presidential candidates, with the one exception of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, decided to join the Tea Party activists in statements of criticism of the legislation.

By doing so, all of these candidates have forfeited the right to be able to claim that they are responsible and legitimate candidates for the White House. They abandoned Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and it demonstrates that there will be tensions between those running for President, and the vast majority of the members of their party in Congress.

All of these candidates should be ashamed of their stand, particularly Mitt Romney, who is supposedly the front runner, but yet never intervened or spoke up during the weeks of controversy, and then, when he finally did over this past weekend, demonstrateed why he should not be elected President of the United States, as he fails to understand the importance of NOT siding with radical economic terrorists, the Tea Party Movement!

At the same time, it raises the image of Jon Huntsman, who is now easily seen as the best candidate that responsible, mainstream Republicans should support. But that does mean that the GOP will have the common sense to nominate a man who could really be a threat to the reelection of President Obama!

Why The Debt Ceiling Legislation Is A Positive Change, Despite Progressive Critics!

The Debt Ceiling Crisis legislation is facing attacks from the Left and the Right, but when one looks at it objectively, it is a good deal in a broad sense, while certainly not perfect.

What are the advantages of the legislation?

1. It avoids another crisis over the debt ceiling until early 2013, when hopefully, the Democrats might control both houses of Congress and the White House.
2. It fully protects Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid from budget cuts in 2012.
3. It provides real budget cuts in 2012 and 2013 for defense spending, along with equivalent cuts in discretionary domestic spending, which makes it a balanced agreement.
4. It only cuts a little over $20 billion in discretionary domestic spending in 2012, with much of the real budget cuts due in the long run, in 2013 and beyond.
5. The likelihood of a tax increase on the wealthy and corporations is growing, as the President can veto any change before 2013, and if he wins, can continue to prevent the Bush tax cuts from being continued, making it a national campaign issue in 2012, along with protection of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
6. Pell grants for college students will not be affected, which was an important goal for President Obama.

Of course, there are disadvantages including no tax increases on the rich and corporations in the interim; unemployment compensation extensions are denied, highly regrettable; the requirement of a vote on a balanced budget constitutional amendment, although it will not pass; and the formation of a twelve member bipartisan deficit reduction commission, which is highly unlikely to come up with a compromise, but which would then trigger automatic budget cuts of $1.2 to $1.5 trillion, but affecting 2013 and beyond, with defense half of the budget cuts, and none from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

So while there are problems with the deal, it resolves the issue of the debt ceiling after a long, hard struggle, and hopefully, the Republican Party will be blamed for the crisis, and the fact that the Tea Party people basically held the country hostage for months over this, and it will reverberate against them in November 2012!

The bill has just passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 269-161, with three fourths of the Republicans voting for it, and just half of the Democrats, so what it means is that the Tea Party Movement in the GOP and the progressive left in the Democratic Party united against it, with the moderate center left and right supporting what is to be looked at as the best deal that could be enacted in the midst of this economic crisis. There will be much debate and analysis over time about the history of this crisis, but under the circumstances, there is certainly a sigh of relief that it is over, and there will be no default!

But the battle for the progressive future must now be led by Barack Obama, with no more concessions to the Republicans as we enter the year 2012 and beyond!

Barack Obama And Progressive Disillusionment: What Is The Alternative?

With the announcement of a deal on the Debt Ceiling Crisis last night, but still to be voted on today by both houses of Congress without a guarantee of its passage at this moment of writing, the question arises as to what is the future of the progressive movement in America.

Many might say the answer is to give up on Barack Obama and challenge him in the primaries, and or run a candidate on a third party line in November 2012.

If one looks at the history of such efforts, however, it always leads to the worst alternative to progressivism being triumphant!

In November 1967, Senator Eugene McCarthy entered the race for the Presidency against President Lyndon B. Johnson, followed by Senator Robert Kennedy in March 1968, leading to his withdrawal and replacement as the administration candidate by Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The split engendered in the party over the war in Vietnam led to a divided Democratic convention, and the defeat of Humphrey by Richard Nixon, who proceeded to continue the war in Vietnam another four years, something assuredly that would not have happened under a President Humphrey. This tumultuous split in the Democratic Party helped to make for a Republican advantage, and permanently changed the Democratic party, whereby they would only win the Presidency three times out of the next ten national elections.

In late 1979 and early 1980, President Jimmy Carter was challenged in the primaries, for being too moderate and centrist, by both Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Governor Jerry Brown of California. The effect of the primary challenge was to weaken Carter for the campaign, with all of the attacks by Kennedy and Brown used by the Republicans against Carter, and Ronald Reagan won the election, setting back the progressive movement dramatically, still having an effect in 2011!

There was similar discontent among some progressive elements with Bill Clinton in his first term, but no revolt or challenge from within the progressive movement, and Bill Clinton, with his faults and shortcomings, was reelected to a second term, the only Democrat to do so since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

So while there can be discontent and disappointment with Barack Obama, that he has not achieved everything that progressives desire, try to imagine President John McCain instead, and try to imagine whether any of the many accomplishments of the Obama Presidency would have been achieved, and the answer is clearly negative.

So when Ralph Nader, who helped to defeat Al Gore by running in Florida in the 2000 election, talks about challenging Barack Obama, the answer is to steer clear of him unless one wants another 2000 election, unless one wants a Republican likely to be further to the right than George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan were in 2000 or 1980.

And when one tries to consider what progressive spokesman could really win the nation in 2012, one comes up empty handed. Certainly, Ralph Nader has no credibility and is seen as fringe in nature. Dennis Kucinich has appeal for some of what he advocates, but has run twice in the Presidential primaries and comes across as loony to many with his personal quirks. Bernie Sanders is appealing to many, but is actually a Socialist, not a Democrat, and could not possibly have broad based appeal. Russ Feingold is probably the most attractive alternative, and has formed Progressives United, an advocacy organization in Madison, WIsconsin, but he is weakened by the loss of his Senate seat in 2010, and it would be better if he ran for Senator Herb Kohl’s Senate seat with Kohl retiring, with a good chance to come back to the Senate in 2012 and promote the progressive cause from that location, in a more constructive manner.

Who else is possible, with any credibility? Realistically, NO ONE, and therefore, there is no alternative but to support Barack Obama, have him and his party fight the good fight over the next 15 months, and work to create a solid majority for progressive causes in the House of Representatives and the Senate!

If that quest is successful, and with a second term and no reelection to face, Barack Obama would likely turn further to the left, stick his neck out, and become more progressive than he has been able to do, logistically, in this first term. With all the criticism that has been and will be made of Barack Obama, he still has the most progressive term in office since Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s with his Great Society!