Tag Archives: John Boehner

Was it worth it, Tea Party Wackos?

Ted Cruz

Yes, Senator Cruz...the Tea Party strategy to defund Obamacare DID stink.

Bravo, Ted Cruz.  Bravo, Mike Lee.  Bravo, House o’ Nutty Tea Party Republicans.  Your (mean-) spirited stand against the tyranny of Obama and the Affordable Care Act accomplished many things.   You’ve managed to disrupt government activities, even agreeing to PAY folks like myself to sit on my butt at home while you threw your temper tantrum. Ok, sure, with the agreement today, you weren’t able to even TOUCH Obamacare, after shutting down the government for 2 1/2 weeks.  Ok, sure, you didn’t get a SINGLE concession from Democrats.  But you’ve still done the country a great service.  How, you ask?

In one fell swoop, you managed to do what Obama, Harry Reid, and Democrats could not do…trivialize and marginalize the entire Tea Party movement.  Congratulations!  With a completely meaningless 2 1/2 week government shutdown, you’ve shown that the Tea Party has NO interest in governing.  You’ve shown the Tea Party has NO interest in the welfare of the American people.  What you have made quite clear is that you stand for IDEOLOGY.  What you have made quite clear is that you are only interested in opposing a sitting, Democratic, black President, no matter the issue.

It only took about 2 days of the shutdown to show that this wasn’t even about Obamacare.  After 2 days, Obamacare became a trivial component of the shutdown, an afterthought.  Republicans moved from wanting to defund Obamacare, to wanting other concessions…ANY concessions…that would inflict harm to Democrats and to Obama.  2 1/2 weeks later, a resolute Obama and Harry Reid have made fools of you.  Not only have you not inflicted an ounce of pain on Democrats and/or Obama, but you’ve committed political hari-kari.

Ted Cruz?  Now a laughingstock, other than amongst the fringe Tea Party wing of the Republican party, who are themselves laughingstocks.  John Boehner?  Once again you’ve done a masterful job at protecting your speakership at the expense of your own party, and at the expense of the American public.

Obamacare, on the other hand, has had approval ratings go UP since the shutdown started.  Tea Party wackos were so sure that the shutdown would swing public opinion into their favor, and Democrats would have to cave.  Sure, all logical political opinion warned you it was an approach doomed to fail, but what the hell…since when have Tea Party wackos listened to polls or experts (on pretty much any subject)?

If I’m Obama or a Harry Reid right now, I’d have one hell of a time hiding my shit-eating grin as I talked about the agreement emerging today. I’d have a hell of a hard time not giving the proverbial (or literal) middle finger to Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and House Republicans.  Thank god Democrats finally grew a backbone, and prevented the hostage taking and crisis-management style of governing that Republicans have fostered since Obama was first elected.

Shutdown Blues…

We’re in day 5 of the U.S. government shutdown.  God knows I’ve certainly had plenty of time this week to blog about it, given that I’ve been stuck at home while my USGS facility is shuttered.  I honestly just haven’t known where to begin, though, as there are SO many “blog-worthy” topics related to the shutdown.

John Boehner – DC Politician – John Boehner and his role in the shutdown perfectly summarize what D.C. politics has become.  It’s not about serving Americans or doing what’s “right”.  It’s not about governing.  It’s about the next election, period.  It’s definitely not a stretch to say that more than any other shutdown, more than any other manufactured political “crisis”, the majority of the blame rests on just one man’s shoulders.  In September, Harry Reid and John Boehner had an agreement that a “clean” CR would be supported by both the Senate and House, at the lower “sequester” level of spending, if no other agreement were reached.  Boehner’s completely lost ANY trust Reid may have had, as obviously Boehner reversed his position as October drew near.  On the one hand, there may be a tendency to feel a bit of sympathy for Boehner, given the hand he’s been dealt.  He’s trying to preside over a Republican caucus with an element that’s more interested in destroying government than it is in actually governing.  Any sympathy for the man is completely overwhelmed though by disgust over his priorities.  As 3rd in succession to the presidency, it’s appalling that Boehner can put his own political future over the well-being of the country.  It’s appalling that Boehner cares more about preserving his Speakership than he does about the American economy, or those that depend upon government programs.  John Boehner, you ARE the face of this shutdown.

Legitimacy of the Obama Presidency - Look at the headlines this week and you’d be rightfully confused as to the reasons Republicans have led this shutdown.  Obamacare?  That was the initial stated reason for the shutdown, that Repubs are trying “protect” America from the “harmful” effects of the Affordable Care Act (more on that in a second).  It only took a day or two though before Republicans were either quoted as saying they just want SOME seemingly random concession from Obama, or have pivoted to state the shutdown is about fiscal policy overall.  Bullshit.  The shutdown is about one issue…Republican denial of the legitimacy of the Obama presidency.  Even on election day, when polls showed Obama would win rather easily, Republican pundits, the right-wing “media”, and Romney himself were CONFIDENT in a victory.  Republicans just don’t recognize that it’s even a POSSIBILITY that Americans would favor Democrat’s ideology and political platform.   In 2012, Democrats won the presidency…Democrats defended nearly every “at-risk” Senate seat (even winning in “red” states like North Dakota…and Democrats had 1 million more votes for the House than did Republicans.  Thanks to ridiculously gerry-mandered House districts, Republicans (unfairly) maintain control of the House, but from the last election, it’s quite obvious who “won”.  It’s quite obvious whose agenda voters favored.  Despite this, Republicans STILL don’t recognize the legitimacy of a Obama presidency.  This more than ANYTHING is why Obama and Democrats need to stand firm against Republican blackmail attempts.  ELECTIONS MUST MEAN SOMETHING.  MAJORITY RULE MUST BE MAINTAINED.  Obama simply can’t allow a minority party to destroy the democratic process.  There’s one hell of a lot more at stake here than just the future of Obama, or Obamacare.

Obamacare itself -  There’s been one issue Republicans have paid little attention to this week…Obamacare itself.  Isn’t this the supposed reason for the shutdown?  However, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act “exchanges”, despite the supposed role the ACA is playing in the shutdown, Republicans have been remarkably quiet on the ACA itself, for at least 2 reasons.  First, as noted above, it’s obvious the shutdown is NOT about the ACA. Secondly…Republicans have to be dismayed about the rollout this week.  Their entire political platform seems to be based on American’s supposed hatred of the ACA.  Their political strategy behind the shutdown is based on negative poll numbers about the ACA itself, even as Americans say shuttering the government is an unacceptable way to fight ACA implementation.   However, the health care exchanges have seen incredible demand after opening this week, with servers unable to handle the load of millions of interested Americans.  Republicans are seeing their entire party platform melt away.  Yes, there have been issues with implementation this week, but there’s obviously demand for affordable health care. It’s one hell of a perilous position to be in for Republicans, seen as the party of “no”, a party without a plan for governing, a party that seems more interested in STOPPING Americans from getting affordable health care than it is in improving the health care system.

Right-wing Media Coverage – I hesitate to call it “news” or the “media”, but it’s been downright laughable how Fox News and other right-wing media have covered the shutdown.  Or, should I say “slimdown”, as Fox News refers to it.  Blaring headlines on Fox News this week either refer to it as the “Liberal Shutdown” or “Obama’s Shutdown” as they attempt to shift blame away from Boehner and Republicans.  Can you imagine ANY mainstream media site consistently blaring headlines such as “Boehner’s Shutdown” or “Republican Shutdown” when referring to this story?  MSNBC is obviously the liberal version of Fox News, but at least they TRY to maintain some semblance of neutrality.  As much as Republicans like to complain about the “liberal media”, you certainly won’t see such blatantly political headlines on CNN, the New York Times, or Washington Post. Can you imagine the outcry from the right if the New York Times preceded every shutdown-related news story with a headline containing “Republican Shutdown”?  If I were any kind of a serious journalist, I’d be damned embarrassed to be associated with Fox News, no matter my political persuasion.

Photo Op Week! – 10%.  That’s the approval rating for Congress right now, and this week makes it pretty damned easy to see why.  Republicans know they’re losing the PR battle, and their major focus this week has been to try to shift blame for the shutdown to Obama, Harry Reid, and Democrats in general.  The strategy has led to some of the most despicable “photo op” events imaginable.  Republicans have refused to even bring up a “clean” continuing resolution, even though it WOULD pass in the House and the shutdown would be over.  The GOP-led House has obviously caused the shutdown, yet Republican House members have tried to pin blame for the pain and inconvenience of the shutdown on Democrats.  The National Park Service is part of the Department of Interior, same as my U.S. Geological Survey.  We’re all shut down, which means all facilities managed by the Park Service are shut down.  Incredulously this week, Republicans have tried to play up the shutdown of Parks, Memorials, and Monuments by claiming Obama himself shut them down.  Hence scenes like the ones on the Washington Mall, where Michelle Bachman has her arm around a wheelchair-bound World War II vet, while both simultaneously talking about Republican support for re-opening monuments, and blaming Obama for the lack of access.  In another widely publicized photo-op, a Republican House member is seen loudly berating a poor National Park Ranger for blocking access…even though it’s the Republican House that is causing this shutdown and has blocked funding for National Parks.  I’m not a violent man.  Other than fights with my evil twin brother growing up, I’ve never been in a physical confrontation in my life.  However, if I were on the National Mall this week and had come across something like the staged Michelle Bachmann photo op, I would have had a hell of a hard time not going up to her and trying to slap some sense into her.

Real-world Fallout – So far, the media coverage of the fallout from the shutdown has focused on relatively minor issues, such as the National Mall access.  There have been a few stories on NIH-funded activities grinding to a halt, patients in clinical trials who have been left out in the cold, etc., but overall, coverage of the effects of shuttered government services has been pretty spotty so far.  That will obviously change as the shutdown drags on, and the negative effects become more pronounced.  What will likely NOT be covered in detail are the longer-term economic effects.  It’s easy to see the direct effects of government offices being closed, of services not being provided.  What’s more difficult to see and quantify are economic effects on those directly or indirectly dependent upon government programs and facilities.  Hotels, restaurants, and other businesses around National Parks are obviously hurting, as are businesses near large government facilities.  While there are about 800,000 Federal employees currently furloughed, there are many times that number of government contractors who are currently sidelined.  Where I work at USGS, we have about 650 total employees, with about 470 of those being contractors.  Those contractors are NOT being paid during the shutdown, and will not receive retroactive back pay.  They’re being told they can use vacation, IF they have enough, or leave-without-pay.  For a shutdown that looks like it will last a minimum of 2 weeks, that’s a damned big economic impact, particularly if you compound that impact across all Federal contractors.

The End Game – I hate to say it, given the serious repercussions for not raising the debt limit, but THANK GOD October 17th is the stated debt-limit deadline.  As hell-bent as Republicans seem to be on destroying Obama and government in general, it’s hard to see them crossing this line and letting the U.S. government default on its debt obligations.  Thanks to the October 17th deadline, it’s hard not to see government funding and the debt limit being tied together in some eventual legislation.  Seeing how entrenched both sides are, it’s also obvious though that we’re going to push right up against that deadline before government is re-opened, and before the debt-limit is raised.  My guess?  We’ll see a lot more bluster and posturing this weekend, with little to no progress.  But as we move through next week, the pressure to make some sort of deal is dramatically ratcheted up.  So…we’re going to be looking at about a 2-week shutdown.  So far, dates floated for a continuing resolution would fund the government through either November 15 or December 15.  Given Republican’s insistence on governing through blackmail…perhaps we can look forward to another round of this crap in just another month or two!

Life as a Fed…

It’s 7:30 pm and at the moment on the floor of the US Senate, noted assclown Ted Cruz is filibustering. OK…in reality due to Senate rules, it’s not a filibuster…it’s just just Cruz doing what he does best…being a blowhard and making a show for the Tea Party wackos. There’s one thing and one thing only on Cruz’s mind, and it sure as he’ll isn’t Obamacare or what’s good for the country. No, the one thing on Ted Cruz’s mind is the political future of Ted Cruz.

In reality though you could say that’s the problem with every DC politician. In Cruz’s case he’s posturing for 2016, trying to endear himself to the wacko conservative wing of the Republican Party. The next election…that’s the ONLY thing that drives DC politicians. Mitch McConnell has been crapping his pants over this showdown, not wanting to look like an idiot like Cruz, but at the same time not wanting to piss off the Tea Party wackos. John Boehner is in survival mode, KNOWING Republicans are destroying the party in the long term, but going along with the Tea Party wackiness in order to preserve his speakership. One week until a shutdown that looks ever more likely…

Standing on the sidelines…folks like myself. I’m a US Geological Survey scientist who was around for the LAST shutdown in 1995. There were actually 2 shutdowns then, very short one, and then the one over the holidays that lasted many days. At the time, my wife and I were, well, 18 years younger and a LOT poorer. We’d just closed on our first house, and sitting at home instead of working certainly was a stressful time. I can survive a shutdown for a while now, but god knows there are a lot of Federal employees who would suffer a big hardship if they were out of work for a while.

Now I’m a project manager, and what’s the most frustrating about dealing with DC politics is the complete uncertainty and impossibility to ever make long-term plans. It’s not just a shutdown threat, it’s Congressional politics in general. EVERY year at this time, as we approach a new fiscal year, we have to make contingency plans regarding budgets. Will we be on a continuing resolution? (The answer to that is always YES for at least the last decade). What will our funding be for the fiscal year? Will your agency suffer a big budget hit if Congress does ever pass a budget, and if so, how do change course mid year?

I’ve been at USGS EROS for 20 years now. We truly are a world-class science organization, with many well-respected, well published scientists. Thats NOT due to DC politics or political support, it’s in SPITE of the constant roadblocks that we face. I look at our one organization with about 650 employees, and think of our experiences multiplied across all Federal agencies. How much money and time is wasted every year due to DC politics? How many government man hours are spent planning for shutdowns, for maneuvering through continuing resolutions?

To the general public, Federal employees have somehow become synonymous with the assclown politicians in DC. There’s the stereotype of the fat and happy Fed, overpaid and underworked. To that, I say BULLSHIT. I wish the public could separate the politics from the employees and agencies of the Federal government. We’re doing world-class work where I am, with very well-educated professionals who make less than they could in the private sector. We’re hard-working, dedicated workers, serving the American public with pride and responsibility.

Now if only we could disassociate ourselves from the assclown politicians in DC. It’s tiring having DC politics drag down the reputation of Federal workers themselves. It’s tiring when your work itself is negatively impacted by the uncertainty and interference of DC politics.

In the meantime we sit here with less than a week to go, and DC politicians seem more intent on insulting each other than they do in trying to make government WORK. Have a merry shutdown!!

Good Jobs Report – Republicans Upset

Last month’s jobs report was abysmal, much lower than analysts expected.  After many months of improving numbers, it certainly was a downer, and prompted some to speculate that either the recovery had stalled, or even that we were headed back into recession.  Yesterday, the latest job’s report came out, and the numbers were not only solid, but revisions to the past 2 months numbers pushed those jobs numbers markedly higher.

All in all…very good news!  Wall Street certainly reacted to the jobs report as a great sign the economy is recovering.  The Dow temporarily topped 15,000 for the first time, and finished at an all-time high.  The pundits wrote about the jobs report as good news, a sign that the “spring stall” we’ve had in recent years wasn’t nearly as much of a threat this year.

So how did Republicans react?  As they ALWAYS do when ANYTHING good happens under the Obama presidency…by loudly pronouncing the darkest, most pessimistic interpretation of the news, and then squarely placing “blame” on the Obama administration. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that thanks to ObamaCare, future jobs numbers are “more likely to slow down than speed up”.  Cheery. John Boehner’s quote?  “We need to seize opportunities the president has been ignoring, and focus on growing our economy rather than growing more government”.    Fox News?  While every other major news website had a story about the good jobs report yesterday morning, on Fox News’ website, the jobs report was curiously absent from the front page.  Shocking!  A “news” organization (ha-ha) ignoring good news for Americans?

It must be awfully damn depressing to be a Republican right now.  Republicans are SO full of hate for this president that even GOOD news must be interpreted in a negative light.  Republicans, is there ANYTHING you enjoy in life?  Is there ANY good news that you don’t somehow turn around into an Obama negative?  Is this how Americans are supposed to live their lives, focused on hatred, negativity, and pessimism about the future?

Pat Toomy, Republican Senator and co-sponsor of the Manchin-Toomy gun-control bill that recently failed, said the bill failed because “There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” That’s a shockingly honest, but shockingly depressing statement.  Republicans have become SO incredibly ideological that they don’t even CARE about the direction of the country.  The don’t CARE about a good jobs report.  They don’t CARE that the economy is improving.  Even with 90% of Americans supporting background checks, Republicans ADMITTEDLY voted against it, just because they don’t want to do something Obama supports.

Republicans would rather see the entire country collapse, so they can point their fingers and blame Obama.  What a pathetic party platform. What an incredibly sad way to live your life…

Republican Meltdown – Politics First, Country Last

If their actions weren’t so harmful, it would be very easy to take delight in the Republican Party’s meltdown right now.  Ideology now rules the GOP, to the extent that the Tea Party wing of the GOP would rather sink the nation than give in on tax issues. 

This was it.  This was the best chance to seriously address budget deficits.  After the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, after serious efforts by Obama and Boehner to craft a “grand bargain” last year, and again earlier in the fiscal cliff debate, there was  real chance to tackle deficits through a balanced approach that cut spending and raised taxes.  Obama was even giving in on entitlements, offering concessions that many Democrats abhorred. 

But alas, the GOP has become a one-trick pony, a one-issue party.  The only issue the GOP seems capable of addressing is shrinking government.  That’s not necessarily bad, if the GOP held a pragmatic, rational view of how to shrink government.  Hell, I’m as liberal as they come, but I agree we need to cut spending (how about starting with the Defense budget???)  The GOP’s stance isn’t necessarily bad, if the GOP also accepted modest revenue increases as a way to help balance budgets.  It’s not necessarily bad, if the GOP had a rational PLAN to shrink the government in an intelligent manner, using a scalpel to trim the fat, instead of using a meat cleaver to decapitate the patient.

Instead, we have a GOP that has decided ideology is more important than deficit reduction.  A small number of simple-minded, ideologically rigid, inflexible SOBs in the GOP House have made compromise impossible.  They have made effective governance impossible.  By sticking to ideology, they have scuttled a deal that could have gone a long way to solving our budget issues.  Instead, we’re stuck with a very small deal that does very little to solve our long-term budget problems.  And even this incredibly minor deal was unpalatable to the Tea Party wing of the GOP, with House Republicans voting against it by a 2-to-1 margin, despite the devastating consequences to our economy if nothing were passed.

The GOP is in free fall.  They’ve become so irrational, so full of hate for Obama and Democrats, that all hope is lost for pragmatic compromises or rational governance.  We’re at a stage where the most powerful of GOP kingpins has become so “small”, literally (in terms of power) and figuratively (in terms of respectability), that John Boehner is walking the halls of the Capitol yelling loudly at Democratic leadership to “Go fuck off”. 

So here we sit, with a minor increase in taxes that does little to address our deficit issues.  Here we sit, with another manufactured crisis looming, as a 2-month delay in “sequestration”, the debt-limit increase, and funding for the government for the rest of the fiscal year all come into play at the same time.  Round 2 – a resounding, yet hollow “win” for Obama and the Democrats.  With the coming Round 3, we may just have  knockout blow where the victim/loser isn’t Obama/Democrats or the Republicans, but instead, it’s the American economy and political system.

Folly indeed – Our Non-representative House of Representatives

GOP Cliff Diving

The House of Representatives is anything but representative. Democratic House candidates received more votes than Republicans in this past election, yet thanks to gerrymandered districts, Republicans somehow maintain House control. The non-representative House of Representatives is about to drive the economy to ruin, defying what Americans want from these negotiations.

And over the cliff we go…

Early on Monday, it appeared that a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff was within sight.  President Obama agreed to spending cuts, including cuts in entitlement spending.  Many Democrats weren’t happy that Obama evidently agreed to a change in the way inflation is calculated for adjusting federal benefits.  Obama also moved on his prior insistence that tax rates go up for all earners over $250,000, raising that number to $400,000.  John Boehner finally gave in and agreed that tax rates would have to rise for high earners.  With the moves from Obama and Boehner, on Monday, a deal appeared imminent.

Then, within the course of a few hours, John Boehner caved to the conservative nutjobs that control the Republican Party.  Suddenly Boehner’s “Plan B” appeared, where Republicans would unilaterally pass legislation in the House that extended tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million a year.  It was purely a political ploy, as passage of such a bill in the House would only serve as a political tool Republicans could wield in trying to convince the public they were being reasonable on fiscal cliff negotiations.

Yesterday, Boehner pulled “Plan B” in the House and adjourned for the holidays.  They couldn’t even get enough votes within their own party to pass the legislation.  One and a half months after a disaster of an election for Republicans, and they still haven’t seemed to have gotten the message that the political winds have changed.  Republicans are still allowing the radical conservative wing of the party to dictate the party’s direction.

Why are we in this mess?  Why, with months to find a solution to this mess, are we about to merrily tumble over the fiscal cliff, even when politicians know the severe harm it will cause to our economy?  Look no further than our non-representative House of Representatives.

Conservatives constantly point to the Constitution and our founding fathers on issues such as gun rights and other issues.  I wonder what the founding fathers would think of today’s political system that allows for a House of Representatives to be composed of a NON-representative suite of politicians.  Even with the political and economic headwinds against him, Obama decisively beat Romney. Even with Democrats defending many more seats than Republicans, Democrats managed to GAIN seats in the Senate.  In the House?  DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATES RECEIVED MORE VOTES IN THE HOUSE THAN DID REPUBLICAN HOUSE CANDIDATES!!! Yet thanks to a system that allows state legislatures to gerrymander House districts, Republican-controlled states managed to game the system and send more Republican House members to Washington than the vote of the American people would imply.

In short, our House of Representatives is anything BUT representative.  The American people are strongly siding with Obama’s positions in the fiscal cliff negotiations.  But thanks to gerrymandered House districts that allowed Republicans to control the House, despite receiving a minority of the votes, fiscal cliff negotiations are going nowhere.  Gun control legislation will go nowhere, despite the tragedy in Newtown.  ANY significant legislation is likely to go nowhere over the next 2 years, thanks to a Republican-controlled House who continues to insist on defying the voice of the American people, and instead focus on the path set forward by the hyper-radical conservative wing of their party.

Given what happened in the November election, given that the American people are behind him on the fiscal cliff issue, and given all the political clout Obama SHOULD have on the fiscal cliff issue, Obama has gone much further to meet Republicans in these negotiations than many think he needed to go.  But here we are 10 days away from tumbling over the cliff, and our non-representative House of Representatives have walked out on the Obama/Boehner negotiations, and have adjourned for the holidays.  Boehner even had the gall to say that it’s “now up to Obama and Harry Reid” to pass legislation to avoid the fiscal cliff.  WHAT THE HELL??  Republicans close up shop and leave Washington, and then have the guts to say it’s up to Obama and Harry Reid to solve this?

I hope the American people are paying attention.  In general, in mid-term elections, the president’s party losing seats in Congress.  I hope the American people say enough is enough in 2014, and, despite the gerrymandered districts, move us towards a more representative House of Representatives.  As it stands now, a handful of right-wing nutjobs are about to send the entire American economy over the cliff.

GOP Answer to Deficit Reduction – Cutting Tax Rates for Rich

Up until today, it was easy for Obama and Democrats to ignore the bluster from John Boehner and Republicans.  Boehner and other top GOP whiners certainly haven’t pulled any punches in their whining about Obama’s initial proposal.  But until today, they didn’t even HAVE a proposal of their own, making it very difficult to take their complaining seriously. 

Today, Republicans provided a supposed counter-offer to Obama.  And…it’s still very difficult to take them seriously.

Republicans counter-proposal on taxes?  Cutting tax rates for the wealthy…but closing unspecified loopholes to somehow increase $800 billion in revenue.   To begin with, there are no details on exactly what loopholes will be closed, or how the net outcome from cutting tax rates for the wealthy would somehow result in an increase of $800 billion to government coffers.  By CUTTING rates for the wealthy, but promising unspecified loophole closures, Republicans see the best of both worlds…not going against the Grover Norquist tax-cut pledge, AND inevitably shifting some of the revenue increase burden to groups other than the wealthy.

It’s amazing how far Republicans are going to protect tax cuts for the richest of Americans.  This same farce of a counter-proposal also seeks to cut $600 billion in health costs, with one stated Republican option being to raise Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.  Another $200 billion would be saved by decreasing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security, as well as all other aspects of government.   While doing everything they can to protect their wealthy donors, Republicans certainly have no problem sticking the poor or the sick with additional costs.

After the election, an emboldened Obama is finally showing a backbone.  He’s finally sticking to his guns on making the wealthy pay their fair share.  I just hope to god he sticks with it, and doesn’t cave once the fiscal cliff approaches. 

Going over the cliff, even with a short-term recession looming as a result, is far more preferable than caving to Republicans who not only want to maintain the gap between rich and poor, but seemingly want to widen it.

The “New” Face of the GOP

White Male House GOP Committee Chairs

From the DailyKos story, the 19 House Committee chairs named by Republicans this week. Hmmm...what do these 19 folks all have in common? Is the face of the "new" Republican Party, the one that supposedly learned a lesson from the 2012 elections?

Three weeks after the election, and it’s quite obvious that Republicans have already forgotten the lessons learned about the electorate, about diversity, and about moderating stances.  As these stories from Slate and the DailyKos note, EVERY House GOP Committee chair that’s been named so far is a white male.  Shocking!!!  As my wife would state, the “Hairy Old White Men” still rule the roost in the GOP house. 

After two straight presidential elections that have proven Republicans can’t rely on the “White Vote” strategy any longer, there were immediate calls from many on the right to become more inclusive.  Boehner and the GOP leadership in the House missed that memo.  As I’ve stated before, I GLADLY support the status quo in the Republican Party leadership.  As long as the status quo holds, as long as Republicans cling to policies and behavior from the past, they’re destined to lose many more elections.

There were also many after the election who claimed it was the death knell of the Tea Party, that Tea Party conservatism was too extreme for the American public.  There’s little doubt that the Tea Party backed candidates performed miserably in Congressional races, and helped contribute to the stunning Democratic gains in the Senate, when by every historical standard, Republicans should have gained Senate seats this cycle.  So have Republicans begun to move towards more moderate candidates?

Virginia Republicans certainly haven’t learned their lesson.  In a state Romney was sure he’d win, in a traditionally “safe” Republican state that’s now shifted to blue the last 2 elections, Virginia Republicans have rallied around conservative lightning rod Ken Cuccinelli for governor in 2013. Among Cuccinelli’s MANY claims to fame?  Trying to sue a Virginia climate-change scientist to release his emails…opposing ObamaCare…opposing limits on carrying guns…opposing rights or assistance for illegal immigrants…and the hits keep on a comin’. 

Bravo, Repubs.  Don’t give in!  Don’t go against what you believe in!!  Don’t deviate from your current single-minded focus on turning the U.S. into a conservative Nirvana!! 

As long as you continue to act as if the 2012 election never happened…Democrats like myself will be fat and happy for a VERY long time.

Boehner’s “Generous” Offer for Compromise

Yesterday, John Boehner tried to set the tone for “compromise” on debt negotiations.  It sounded good.  After a very tumultuous, brutal election, it sounded good for the Republican House to come out and say they were willing to deal with Obama on the debt.

It remains to be seen what Boehner means by “compromise”.  Note the language of his statement. He specifically says they’re willing to raise ‘revenue’.   From his comments yesterday, Boehner still says Republicans are unwilling to raise tax rates on the rich.  HUH!?!?!  How is that compromise?  After the election, even some hard-core conservatives admitted that tax increases had to be part of any realistic deal to cut the debt.  Yet despite Boehner’s “magnanimous” offer yesterday to compromise, Republicans are still unwilling to raise tax rates on the rich.

How do you raise “revenue” without raising taxes?  According to Boehner, Republicans plans for raising revenue comes from a “byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all.”  WTF!?!?!   This is EXACTLY what Romney had been campaigning on!!!  It’s the same old trickle-down economics “solution”!!!  Cut taxes!! Then we will magically generate new revenue simply because the economy is growing!!!

Nice political play, Boehner.  You certainly fooled the press into getting a big headline.  Right after an election, you made it LOOK like Republicans were being magnanimous.  It sets Boehner and the Republicans up more favorably when negotiations start, and I’m sure you’ll hear today’s proclamation referenced to, when Republicans refuse to raise taxes and blame Obama.

SOTU – Polarized, Gridlock

State of the Union - Standard Speech

My proposed template for all future State-of-the-Union speeches, and opposition party responses.

Last night, as our POTUS gave the SOTU with the FLOTUS and SCOTUS present, a few thoughts crossed my mind.  First…The State of the Union address happens once a year.  I’m not sure it’s THAT common of a concept in most people’s minds that they see “SOTU” in the headlines and realize what the hell the story is going to talk about.  Hey, I work for the government.  We’re acronym loonies.  But enough with the SOTU headlines, just freakin’ spell it out.

My second thought was…is a speech like this REALLY focusing on the “State of the Union”?  Or, is it more a political stump speech for the next election?  It’s ALWAYS the latter more than the former, but even more so in an election year.  I couldn’t stomach either the speech itself for very long, or the Mitch Daniels GOP “response”.

What bugs the hell out of me…why does there NEED to be a “response” from the “other” party after a State of the Union address?   For an event that’s supposed to bring Americans together to focus on the primary issues affecting or nation, why instead has it become an event that even further strengthens the intense polarization that typifies American politics?  In the State of the Union, the President at least has to give SOME appearance that he’s outlining a path forward for our country, that Americans as a whole need to come together to solve our problems.  For the “other” party response?  As with other opposition party responses in the past, Mitch Daniels might as well have just issued a short statement…”Obama sucks, vote Republican in November”.

Not exactly a Lou Holtz type of speech to motivate the team.  The State of the Union evening has become just one more night of campaigning for both Democrats and Republicans.  There is no attempt from either side to realistically discuss bridging the gaps between the “two” sides.  Because of course, there ARE just two types of Americans…Democrats, and Republicans, an oil-and-water combo that can NEVER mix.  Instead of a night that uplifts the spirits of the American people, where we discuss our Nation’s accomplishments and path forward, it’s become a depressing night where each side tries to out-do each other in blaming the other, where the state-of-the-union is NEVER good, and it’s ALWAYS the other party’s fault for CAUSING such a sucky state of affairs.

The thunderous applause for Gabrielle Giffords was a nice moment.  That’s about what it takes for Democrats or Republicans to work together or even talk to each other…a near-death experience.  Even that isn’t above the depressing political rhetoric though, given the AMPLE stories this week from John Boehner and others, touting the chances of Republicans taking the seat from Giffords in an upcoming special election. 

I propose we replace the State of the Union speech and response with a simple press release.  “State of the Union – Gridlock in Washington, Political Partisanship Increasing – Public Following Politicians’ Example and Becoming More Polarized”.   Three little phrases, phrases that for all intents and purposes, provide the same message as  provided by the president’s State of the Union speech and the opposition party’s response.   We’d save millions in taxpayer $$$$, as the same wording, the same press release materials, could be distributed year, after year, after year, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.  A depressing message to be reiterated every year, sure…but no more depressing than watching the current slate of speeches on State of the Union night.