Tag Archives: Washington

Good sign on the immigration front

Tea-party groups this week tried to sponsor an anti-immigration rally in Washington DC that would “shut down this town”. Uh…not so much.  Despite the heavy promotion and what Tea Party sponsors thought was highlighting a hot-button topic, only about 1,000 protesters showed up.

The story above notes the heat may have played a role, but…c’mon…hot weather wouldn’t stop a well-organized event with a strong backing from a group’s constituents.  While I have no doubt that a lack of organization and planning hindered the event, the optimistic side of me (which does show its face sometimes!) can’t help but believe part of the reason for the poor turnout is a lack of conviction for anti-immigration rallies by a large swath of Americans.

It’s somehow at once both frustrating, and encouraging, to see the Republican Party implode in recent months on issues such as immigration reform.  Frustrating, in that short-term gridlock is preventing any kind of meaningful legislation to come out of Washington.  Frustrating, to see that hatred, bigotry, greed, and mistrust have taken over one of two American political parties.

However, from a long-term perspective, it’s quite encouraging to see the conservative wing of the party bring the entire Republican Party down to its knees.   In the short-term, Republican’s foolish stance on immigration reform…on anti-abortion legislation in Texas and elsewhere…on voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and many other states…on gay rights and marriage equality…are incredibly damaging to the country.  In the long-term…Republicans are not only forever branding their party as the party of intolerance and hatred, forever alienating minority groups (not to mention women in general!), but they are alienating an entire GENERATION.  The rapid turn-around on views on gay marriage has been driven by a more tolerant, younger generation.  Right now, the entire Republican Party looks incredibly out-of-touch.

The entire Republican Party looks “old”…they look like a dinosaur.  And, I couldn’t be happier…

Rethinking the D.C. “Scandals”

As “scandals” (both real and manufactured) continue to garner news coverage, I’ve changed my views a little bit on at least one issue.  With the news today of the Obama administration admitting 4 American citizens have been killed by drone strikes, I now count 4 scandals.  I still believe that much the emphasis in DC is on politics, I still believe a the scandals are being overblown simply to inflict as much political harm as possible on the Obama administration.  However, as more information continues to trickle out, I do have serious concerns about how the Obama administration has handled 2 issues, while the other 2 in my mind are pure political fluff.  The 2 “fluffy” issues first:

- Benghazi – It would be different if Republicans were focused on improving diplomatic security.  However, given that Republicans have been against increasing funding for diplomatic security, given that they’ve given NO indication they care about anything other than using the issue to try to politically harm Obama and Hillary Clinton, it’s hard to see much of a scandal here.  Hey, Repubs…how about spending a little more time worrying about how to prevent the NEXT attack, rather than worrying about what words were used by the Obama administration to describe the LAST attack?

- IRS “Targeting” Tea Party groups – I’m sorry, but despite the play this is getting in the press, I don’t find a lot wrong with the IRS specifically paying more attention to Tea Party groups claiming tax-exempt status.  Given the Tea Party’s hatred of government, given the Tea Party’s goal of decreasing the size of government, given their goal of DECREASING TAXES, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to more closely scrutinize Tea Party organizations who are trying to claim tax-exempt status.

And two scandals that do have me concerned about the direction of the Obama administration:

- Justice Department/AP/Fox leak investigations. This one has become more troubling to me as more information comes out.  Investigating the sources of leaks? I’m fine with that, and given the hawkish-ness of Republicans in general, if this was coming out during the Bush administration, you can be damned sure you’d have a lot less uproar from the right. Hell, they’d probably be joining the call to stop the leaks by any means necessary.  But with the hated Obama in office?  Since when have Republicans been big fans of the press?  It certainly is troubling though to see the Justice Department apparently pursue criminal charges against a Fox News reporter for reporting leaked information.  That’s an incredibly dangerous precedent, labeling a journalist as a “co-conspirator”.  Go after the leaks, by all means, but don’t criminalize journalists for reporting leaks.

- Drone Attacks on Americans – In the newest of the scandals, Eric Holder today admitted that four Americans have died due to drone strikes overseas.  Holder said 3 of the 4 “weren’t targeted”.  Sorry, but given the disappointing levels of paranoia and secrecy within the Obama administration, saying they were killed but “not targeted” doesn’t bring a lot of comfort.  Killing American citizens without trial is one hell of a scary path to follow, regardless of the alleged terrorist or criminal activities of the target.

I obviously lean pretty far to the left…but…I’m becoming increasingly disappointed in the Obama administration.  The political naivety of Obama’s first term seems to be swinging towards a more secretive, paranoid, and closed administration as his second term gets underway.  What happened to the promises of a more open and honest government?  What happened to promises for ENDING the brutal practices begun under the Bush administration (ever gonna close Guantanamo, Mr. Obama)?

The right’s pure hatred for Obama certainly has led to gridlock in Washington, and has certainly fueled the flames of the “scandals”.  The right’s attempts to DIRECTLY link Obama, or Hillary Clinton, with these scandals is an overreach on their part, and distracts from any serious discussion of the underlying issues.  It’s pretty obvious that Obama (or Hillary Clinton) didn’t play any role in the decisions that affected security in Benghazi, and any attempt to turn word-choice after the fact into a “scandal” is failing miserably.  It’s pretty obvious that Obama himself had no role in the IRS ‘targeting’ of Tea Party groups.

However, despite the right overplaying their hand and blowing the scandals out of proportion, Obama certainly isn’t doing himself any favors lately.  He’s rapidly losing any chance to accomplish anything on his 2nd-term agenda, and if he doesn’t make a bold move and quash the scandal machine, it’s going to be his own political failings that are blamed for a lame-duck 2nd term, rather than the blame falling on Republicans hell-bent on gridlock.

When a Scandal…Isn’t…

I’m finding it increasingly hard to read the “news” lately.  What qualifies as “news” has already changed significantly in the last few decades, as “news” websites and “journalists” seem to increasingly focus on the trivial, on the provocative, and on the scandalous, regardless of “news” worthiness.

In the world of D.C. politics, “scandal” has similarly become focused on the provocative, political, and trivial.  With the extreme polarization of Repubs and Dems, it seems our elected Representatives and Senators are more interested in finding “gotcha” moments to score political points than they are in actually governing.  Politicians are more interested in seeking the short-term limelight of the attention garnered through uncovering of “scandals” than they are in the long-term benefits of legislating.

According to the “news” sources, we have three major “scandals” occurring right now; Benghazi, the IRS, and the Justice Department/AP.  Especially given the involvement of the AP in the Justice Department investigation, a riled-up media has played up the three “scandals”, doing their best to make them as provocative as possible to an ignorant and easily fooled public.

Dig a little deeper, and its damned hard to get too worked up about the major “scandals”.  PERHAPS if Republicans in the House would focus on legislating and solving the issues, rather than just trying to score political points, I could take them seriously.  However, Republicans have turned the “scandals” into personal witch-hunts, desperately trying to directly link the “scandals” to the current Obama presidency, and a possible NEXT Democratic presidency of Hillary Clinton.  Benghazi was a tragedy, and people died.  In the world of D.C. politics, the focus isn’t on correcting the situation and trying to improve security.  GOD no…in fact, Republicans continue to be against any increases in funding for diplomatic security.  Instead, Benghazi, like the other scandals, is primarily about the next election instead of being focused on preventing another Benghazi.

Immigration reform?  Entitlement reform? Increasing unrest in the Middle East? Deficit reduction? Health care?  With the current focus on “scandal”, Congress seems like they couldn’t care less about the more pressing issues facing the country.

“Gotcha” journalism now has a VERY willing partner in “gotcha” D.C. politics.

Wonderful Editorial by Retiring Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

Senator Snowe...I couldn't have said it better myself.

If you get a chance, read Olympia Snowe’s opinion piece in the Washington Post on her reasons for retiring from the Senate.  Is it any wonder Congressional approval sits at 11%?  Even those WITHIN Congress are disgusted with what’s become of Congressional politics. 

Rush Limbaugh (my, am I picking on him a bit lately?) said that losing Snowe was no big loss for Republicans.  Of course he would say that.  Snowe is moderate, someone who has angered her own party on more than one occasion.  In the “new” world of American politics, that just won’t do!  In the Limbaugh world of politics, there IS no compromise with the “enemy”.  There IS no going against the party. 

As Snowe states so beautifully, it’s going to take a lot for the current paradigm in Congress to change.  It’s going to take something of a revolution, if you will, from American voters.  But at present, American voters are just as polarized as American politicians.  Look at the current GOP presidential race, where candidates are stumbling all over themselves to see who can sound the most “severely” conservative.  It’s not exactly a recipe for change in Washington. 

Obama went to Washington on the motto of “change”.  He vowed to bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats.  It sounded good.  It hasn’t happened.  There simply isn’t one man, even the President, who is capable of changing the tenor of Washington politics.  What’s bound Americans together in the past, what’s brought out the best in them, has been crisis.  Is THAT what it’s going to take to change Washington?  Some unforeseen crisis?

CPAC Madness

Rick Santorum

For once, Rick Santorum is correct! Extreme conservatives and tea-party wackos ARE the Republican Party. And as a Democrat, there's little I've enjoyed more recently than watching the GOP self-destruct. You can't build a long-term political platform based solely on hatred of your fellow (Democratic) Americans.

Nothin’ like a political platform built solely on vitriol and hatred for your fellow countrymen.   But yet that’s what the Republican Party has become, a party built solely on hate.  Nowhere has that been more apparent than the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this week.  It’s been a WONDERFUL few months, watching the GOP drive itself right off a cliff.

If you had just woken up from a coma and weren’t aware of recent history, your impression from listening to CPAC speeches is that the end of the world was nigh.   HEY!!! Republicans!!!  Did you happen to catch the Clint Eastwood commercial during the Super Bowl?  This is America!! American Pride is still alive and well (at least for Democrats it is)!!   The economy is rebounding!! We’ve killed Bin Laden, and dictators and despots across the globe are falling!! The U.S. is STILL undoubtedly the world’s greatest power!! 

However, in the GOP eyes, America is crumbling before our very eyes…all because of those damned Democrats.  To Republicans, there IS no united America…there is “Republican America”, and then there’s the rest of Americans, who are NOT to be treated as equals, or as partners in governing this nation:

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint: “Compromise works well in this world when you have shared goals. When you have shared goals, you can sit down together. We don’t have shared goals with the Democrats, folks.”

No shared goals with Democrats?  Given that Republicans continue to discount ANY positive news event under the Obama administration (economy gaining ground, foreign policy achievements, etc.), perhaps it’s true that Republicans do NOT share Democratic goals of building a better America.  A quote from Rick Santorum provides the best synopsis of the CPAC, and of the Republican Party in general.

“Conservatives and tea-party folks,” Santorum said. “We are not just wings of the Republican Party — we are the Republican Party.”

Well said, Mr. Santorum!!  Your party IS becoming the party of out-of-touch, hate-mongering wackos!!  And as a Democrat, I couldn’t be happier about it.   In the short-term, you may be able to win an election or two by focusing purely on hate.   In the long-term, Americans won’t stand for it.   As the CPAC has shown, and as the GOP presidential race has shown in the last few months, the nutjobs taking over the Republican Party will ultimately just end up driving the party off a cliff.

Perusin' & Musin'

Perusin and Musin'Some random thoughts from perusin’ the web…

Our feathered Dinosaurs FriendsFeathers preserved in amber from the end of the Cretaceous period show that at least some dinosaurs were indeed feathered.  “Feathers” & Folly is going to have to expand scope, and I’m going to have to start talking about dinosaurs as well as birds.

Obama – Be prepared to pay “your fair share” to cut deficitIn his Saturday radio address, Obama said Americans must be prepared to pay their fair share to cut the deficit.  That’s called REALITY.   On the other hand, we have John Boehner announcing this week that any new tax increases are off the table for the debt committee.  That’s called DELUSIONAL.   The fight over the debt committee’s work is shaping up to be just as painful as was the fight to raise thte debt limit, as the GOP refuses to acknowledge reality, and refuses to negotiate.

Pat Robertson – Divorce your spouse with Alzheimer’s – Pat Robertson gave advice this week that it’s justifiable to divorce your spouse if they have Alzheimer’s.   So much for Christian values and “till death do us part”.  It’s a horrible situation when a spouse gets Alzheimer’s, but I don’t care if it’s “like death” or not, divorcing a spouse because of an illness sure doesn’t sound “Christian” to me.

U.S. to Veto Palestine State Recognition in U.N. – The Palestinian president is taking his case for recognition of a Palestinian state to the U.N.  For reasons I won’t even pretend to understand, the Obama administration says the U.S. will veto that recognition in the Security Council.  The U.S. has been involved in peace talks between Israel and Palestinians for 20 years, and where has it gotten things?   A U.S. veto will spark Muslim outrage in the Middle East, and further strengthen the Muslim view of the U.S. as a villain and an obstacle to a Palestinian state.

Husker prediction – My prediction for today’s Nebraska game against Washington…After a rather pathetic defensive showing last week, a more fired up defense plays well, slowing down the run enough to be effective, and rattling a young Washington QB making his first start on the road.  On offense, Nebraska again struggles, but makes a few big plays.  Close game going into the fourth quarter, but Nebraska wins by a touchdown.   Nebraska 23, Washington 16