Thursday, October 17, 2013

Once Bitten...

When Barack Obama overtook Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008 many in politics asked how this freshman senator from Illinois could possibly be an effective president with so little experience.

We might, now, have the answer.

Not very easily.

What Obama lacks is that one quality Hillary has.  She has been in the fray, both in Arkansas, and in Washington, for many years.  She knows how the game is played and is under no illusion that there could ever be anything other than partisan politics, let alone "post-partisan politics" as Obama assured us.

He came to Washington with a child's fantasy that, by just being nice, he could get things done.

He quickly found out that the Republicans are not living in a fantasy world and were going to be anything but nice.

Time and again he tried to reach out to the Republicans and time and again they rejected his overtures.  They co-opted Nancy Reagan and just said "no."  Their stated objective, even on the night of his first victory, was to deny him a second term.  They would do whatever it took to thwart him.

Despite that level of opposition Obama did manage to score some victories.  He saved the economy (barel...y) with his stimulus and he kept the automakers from going out of business.  He stopped "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", killed Osama Bin Laden and brought an end to our day to day involvement in Iraq.

And, much to the consternation of the Republicans, he was able to pass The Affordable Care Act and provide health care to millions of uninsured Americans.

But Obama is not a stupid man and he seems to have learned from his first term mistakes and acquired some of that experience that Hillary would have had on Day One.

This time around, in this latest crisis in Washington, it was Obama who said "no."  The Republicans sent him a bill to fund the government with an amendment to defund his signature legislation.

He told them to go to hell.  He said that he would not be blackmailed and would not allow the country to be taken hostage.

The Republicans thought he would cave and were surprised when he didn't.  The country was partially shutdown at a cost of some 24 billion dollars. 

Then came the tie-in to the debt ceiling.  Again the Republicans thought Obama would give in but he held tough and, again, refused to waiver.

And it was the Republicans who were forced to cave in to the stark reality that allowing the country to default on its' Constitutional obligations would not only harm The Republic in a time of a fragile economic recovery but would damage their "brand",  possibly irreparably.

It is because of all of the above that I find it laughably ludicrous for some Republicans to claim that it is because of President Obama that the government was closed and that veterans couldn't visit their monuments and that military families couldn't get their survivor's benefits among many other stories of hardship surfacing as a result of the closure.

It was not Obama that caused the problem.  It was the Republicans led by the despicable, opportunistic Ted Cruz of Texas.

He knew, after 40 plus attempts in the past to defund Obamacare, a lost election run, in large part, on that issue and a Supreme Court ruling upholding the law, that his attempt to hijack the funding bill was a non-starter and a no-win.

Obama may be arrogant and aloof and a progressive liberal.  He may be in favor of legislation that will expand entitlements and grow our insane national debt.

He may be a black man in a white political world and he may have an agenda beyond what we see.

He may have disappointed many, this writer included.

It is okay to dislike him, even to hate him. 

But it is disingenuous, at the very least, to suggest that it is his fault that we came so perilously close to default today and caused so many in this country so much pain and anxiety.

The Republicans, for five years, refused to play fair ball.  The Republicans tied a desire to destroy Obamacare to a spending bill in an unwinnable strategy. 

The Republicans say "no" and then whine when Obama says it back.

The Democrats, over the years,  have been responsible for some shenanigans and some disastrous policies in Washington. That's an unfortunate given. 

But when you think of what the Republicans have been responsible for over the past 40 years (Watergate, Iran-Contra, the 2000 election, The War in Iraq, The Wall Street Meltdown of '07...), the Democrats failures pale by comparison.

If Obama is responsible for anything it is for standing up to the cowards and bullies on the extreme Right.

To that I say, "It's about friggin' time...!"  (I actually said the other "F" word but this is a family blog after all...)

Oh...and by the way...thank you for saving the country.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"I Have You (sic) Answer"

One of the many wonderful lines delivered by Michael Constantine as "Gus" in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when he realized that he had the solution to a problem.

So, in that spirit, I think I have a way out of the mess in Washington.

Often when there is a problem in another country, that its' leaders seem incapable of solving, we send in one of our elder statesmen to broker a deal. 

Jimmy Carter watches elections.  George Mitchell goes to the Middle East.  Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush try to help in Africa.

It isn't that we don't have great men and women in this country.  Putting aside politics, we have some of the brightest minds and kindest hearts around.

But so do other countries.

Nelson Mandela.  Bishop Desmond Tutu. Aung San Suu Kyi.  Malala Yousafzai.

These are terrific people with one predominant motivation in their lives.


So, if the outsized egos in Washington would put aside their petty name calling and political posturing for one bloody minute maybe, just maybe, someone like those mentioned above could come in and help bridge the gap between the warring parties.

Part of the problem is that both sides have valid points in their arguments and both sides believe they are right.

The issue is finding common ground in an attempt to fix the broken mechanism of government.

No one trusts government anymore to do the business for which it was created.  Politicians are considered to be untrustworthy even by the constituents that send them to office.

We are in so much dire, systemic trouble that we, collectively, hide our heads in the sands of sports, pornography and food and elevate the likes of Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Justin Beiber to the level of hero, idol and role model.

Television is full of escapist examples of our unwillingness to grapple with our real societal problems.

Instead we gorge on Wife Swap, Maury and the "Real" Housewives of Beverly Hills hoping that the morning after will bring back the Happy Days of Mayberry and Bedford Falls.

In case you were wondering, the era of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best ended with the colossal failure of the sixties and we are only now feeling the true impact of the lunacy of our excesses.

We let go of the values that had helped shape this country in favor of free sex, drugs and rock and roll.

We let go of heros like Dwight Eisenhower in favor of transient imitations like Dwight Yoakum.

Eleanor Roosevelt was replaced by Hillary Clinton and Mahatma Gandhi was replaced by Bono.

People go to Washington not so much to serve the voters who trusted them to fairly represent their districts as they do to make money, gain influence and secure a job and pension for life after politics.

So maybe someone like Malala, who took a bullet for her beliefs, is the kind of person who can shame the imbeciles nattering on about Obamacare and The Shutdown Blame Game and persuade these, so-called, great men and women to actually do something equally heroic.

Their jobs.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quandary, Part I

Here's my dilemma...

The Tea Party makes me want to, in the words of my wonderful wife, "hurl."

Yet I understand their raison d'etre. 

They contend, and their argument is not without merit, that the government is broken and needs to be replaced with either nothing or, at a minimum, less of what we have.

Given that Congress' approval rating is at about 10% it would seem that the rest of the country agrees.

But it is their methods, spokespeople and style that makes us all want to smash the TV when they're on.

They all seem like raving idiots, devoid of common sense and any inkling of empathy.

But the harsh truth is that our government IS broken and doesn't seem like it will be fixed anytime soon.

We are "led" my the Festooned Ignorami.

John Boehner?  Harry Reid?  Nancy Pelosi?  Eric Cantor?


There isn't one single member of Congress worth a damn.  The possible exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders aside, the men and women in Washington, from The President all the way through both houses, are so hell bent on re-election and scoring political points that they have completely forgotten for whom they work.

We...the friggin' PEOPLE!

They work for their corporate puppetmasters and/or their own egos and couldn't care less about the concerns and needs of average Americans.

The Public be damned...full speed ahead! much as I despise, and have no respect for, the likes of Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann I take their fundamental point.

We are in trouble and the status quo isn't getting the job done.

"...from all enemies foreign...and domestic."

Read's in there. 

"It ain't over 'til it's over" a wise man once said.

I'm just not sure we can Berra too much more...