Republicans’ Frankenstein Monster

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did something today that Democrats should have been doing everyday for the last eight years. He called out Congressional Republicans for their unrelenting obstructionism.

History will look back and note that the Republican Congress treated President Obama with unprecedented disrespect.

No one expected them to agree with everything that he did or tried to do. A day or two after president Obama was elected the first time, Republicans met here in Washington. All the Republican big names and they came to two conclusions.

No. 1, Obama will not be re-elected. They failed on that one, quite miserably.

But, No. 2., that they will oppose everything that President Obama tried to do and they have stuck by that without any question. President Obama is the first president to be denied a hearing on his budget; he’s the first president to be denied a hearing on his supreme court nominee. President Obama is the first president to be asked to show his birth certificate. President Obama is the first president to face over 500 filibusters.

The only thing that Republicans have done this year was to prove that they are the party of Trump. They are the party of Trump. They say that they are not the party of Trump but they are.

They would have us believe that Trump just fell out of the sky and somehow mysteriously became the nominee of the party. But, that’s not the way it is.

Everything that he’s said, stood for, done in this bizzarre campaign that he’s run has come, filtered up from what’s gone on with Republicans disagreeing with everything that the president wanted. They filibustered things that they agreed with just to slow things down.

Trump is no anomaly. He’s the monster Republicans built. He’s their Frankenstein monster. They own him.

Donald Trump’s Noxious Vision

After Donald Trump’s scary, dark musings last night–laden as it was with lies, threats and his profoundly disturbing vision of what he aims to do as president–a little reflection is in order.

Think about it. Is our common public weal more imperiled today than it was in those dark days of 2008?

Yet, neither of the two major party candidates that year offered as dark a vision of the nation nor offered as harsh a prescription of how to rebuild our nation.

Looking back through the tunnel of time, back to 2008, we found a cratered U.S. economy. Banks deemed too big to fail were nevertheless filing for bankruptcy protection. Despite billions in government assistance to financial firms, a historic economic recession was just around the corner.

With the worst attack on American soil in our history within memory, the U.S. military was enmeshed in two wars, American service personnel dying in pursuit of Osama bin Laden in the mountains and caves of Afghanistan and a self-inflicted misadventure in Iraq as we expended treasury we could not afford.

Continue reading “Donald Trump’s Noxious Vision”

Trump: “More Profiling, Please”

Donald TrumpIt is no longer a rumor that Bill Clinton talked to Donald Trump in the weeks before he ran for president.

For the people who believe that, Trump gives them ammunition daily. It’s like Trump calls the HRC campaign headquarters each day to get his talking points about how to further kneecap himself. Or, maybe BC is the ventriloquist that makes the Trump dummy spout nonsense to make himself unpalatable to the general election electorate.

How else would you explain Trump on Sunday calling for profiling Muslims?

See a video of his call-in to CBS’s Face-the-Nation here:

Now, why would a former president whose wife was a certain candidate for POTUS be advising another man to get in the race for the same office? Some conspiracy minded people have gone so far as to say that BC planted Trump in the Republican nomination contest to destabilize the GOP and smooth the way for his wife becoming POTUS.

Republicans may believe in profiling but they don’t believe in stating it so baldly as Trump is prone to do on this and on so many other issues that the GOP prefer to hint at, dog whistle, if you will. Trump, God bless him, just prefers to say what he believes.

The 2013 State of the Union Address


February 13, 2013 | 1:01:01 | Public Domain

Remarks by the President in the State of the Union Address

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

9:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, fellow citizens:

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress.” (Applause.) “It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union — to improve it is the task of us all.”

Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. (Applause.) After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20. (Applause.) Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before. (Applause.)

So, together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger. (Applause.)

Continue reading “The 2013 State of the Union Address”

Sanders’ October 2010 Filibuster Against Corporate Greed

So many people are talking about Rand Paul’s filibuster of John Brennan’s CIA nomination in the U.S. Senate that I thought I would remind people of Vermont’s Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders made a much loved speech on the senate floor that was turned into a book.

It was in Oct. 2010 and the U.S. Senate was considering a budget deal that President Obama made with Republican that was heavily weighted to what Republicans wanted. Sanders spoke for eight hours, stalling adoption of the agreement.

Here is his speech–which is available on C-Span and at other sites, including the Congressional Record–in its entirety:

The Speech*

THE ECONOMY — (Senate – December 10, 2010)
Mr. SANDERS. Mr. President, let me begin by thanking my friend from Virginia for doing what is very important. I think the essence of what he is saying is that today there are millions of Federal employees, people in the Armed Forces, who are doing the very best they can. In many instances, they are doing a great job to protect our country, to keep it safe. And very often, to be honest with you, these folks get dumped on. So it is important that people such as Senator Warner come here and point out individuals who are doing a great job, people of whom we are very proud. So I thank Senator Warner for that.
Mr. President, as I think everyone knows, President Obama and the Republican leadership have reached an agreement on a very significant tax bill. In my view, the agreement they reached is a bad deal for the American people. I think we can do better.
I am here today to take a strong stand against this bill, and I intend to tell my colleagues and the Nation exactly why I am in opposition to this bill. You can call what I am doing today whatever you want. You can call it a filibuster. You can call it a very long speech. I am not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle; I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have to do a lot better than this agreement provides.
Continue reading “Sanders’ October 2010 Filibuster Against Corporate Greed”

Strange Political Seasons

I keep hearing how the Congressional race in New York is, somehow, a referendum on the presidency of Barack Obama. Usually, I would scoff at such fatuous prognosticating. But then, it’s been a strange political season.

So, why not?

This one will end when Obama leaves office. Things will return back to normal.

The only comparable periods I could remember were when Harold Washington became mayor of Chicago in the early 80’s and when David Dinkins became mayor of New York City in the early 90’s.

Chicago's 51st Mayor
Chicago's 51st Mayor

Both times, the Democratic Party establishments in those cities willfully elected to sit on their hands and give up considerable political power and patronage just so the incumbent Democrat would lose.

In his first race for mayor of Chicago, Republican Bernie Epton actually had a fighting chance to win because the Democrats preferred him over the Democrat in the race, Harold Washington. Like the late Chicago Sun Times Columnist Mike Royko famously wrote, “Chicago doesn’t have enough Republican voters to win a Moose lodge election.”

When Washington won, the party establishment organized a coup d’etat in the City Council and resolved to run the city themselves. Washington (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Washington) was a Congressman before running for mayor. He was a tough political battler who was willing to fight for his political life.

From Wikipedia:

“Washington’s first term in office was characterized by ugly, racially polarized battles dubbed “Council Wars”, referring to the then-recent Star Wars films. A 29–21 City Council majority refused to enact         Washington’s reform legislation and prevented him from appointing reform nominees to boards and commissions. Other first-term items include overall city population loss, increased crime, and a massive decrease in ridership on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). This helped earn the city the nickname “Beirut on the     Lake”, and many people wondered if Chicago would ever recover or face the more permanent declines of other cities in the U.S. Midwest.

The twenty-nine, also known as the Vrdolyak Twenty-nine, was led by “the Eddies”: Alderman Ed Vrdolyak, Finance Chair Edward Burke and Parks Commissioner Edmund Kelly. The Eddies were supported by the younger Daley (now State’s Attorney), U.S. Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski and William Lipinski, and other powerful white Democrats.

During one of the first Council meetings, Harold Washington was

unable to get his appointments approved.

Harold Washington and the twenty-one ward representatives that supported him, walked out of the meeting after a quorum had been established. Vrdolyak and the other twenty-eight were able to appoint all of the boards and chairs. Later lawsuits submitted by Harold Washington and others were dismissed because it was determined that the appointments were legally made.

Washington ruled by veto. The twenty-nine could not get the thirtieth vote they needed to override Washington’s veto; African American, Latino and white liberal aldermen supported Washington despite pressure from the Eddies.”

So, in the Senate, after Obama came into office, despite having 59 United States Senators to the Republicans 41, Republicans somehow set the terms of the debate on legislation. Then, in the midterm elections, Republicans strengthened their hands by regaining the House of Representatives and gaining a couple of U.S. Senate seats.

Republicans became strictly obstructionists, not only unwilling to reasonably discuss any national issue, but actually working to harm the nation because it served their political purposes. They paid no political price for that. In fact, they gained more power.

But I am getting too far ahead of myself.

To get back to back to Harold Washington, he won reelection but had a massive heart attack at his desk in City Hall in early in his second term.

Dinkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Dinkins), like Obama now, was seen as weak. In New York City, people did not come out to vote. Think about it. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 5-1 in New York City. Winning the office meant not only that lots of people kept their jobs but that they got more jobs and patronage for four more years.

And they gave all that up.

So, yes, Obama—perhaps one of the smartest person to ever hold the presidency of the United r-bStates—will lose reelection in 2012. Maybe the people of our fair nation will start acting normal after that.

UPDATE: Just to prove Democrats are their own worst enemies, if not worse, some lame-brain Democrats now say they oppose the president’s job bill. The same bill that has put Republicans in a “damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t” quandry! How could make political hay against recalcitrant Republicans when Democrats are adding fuel to the Republican fire?

A Recurring Nightmare

The BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is a perfect Republican Party trap: Watch as a Democratic administration and Congress drown in the oil disaster while they clean up at the polls. Then Republicans return to office and begin the cycle by laying the bombs that’ll detonate under the next Democratic administration.

Does anyone remember Dick Cheney’s behind-the-door meetings with energy executives in W.’s maladministration? Or the two wars they bequeathed Americans?

For those who have forgotten, Brian Conners has written a recap at Associated Content that I think is worth reading. His earlier piece pointed fingers also.

Sure, President Barack Obama has been feckless in dealing with a disaster-not-of-his-making.

How difficult can it be to say that British Petroleum, besides paying for every penny that it costs to clean up the Gulf and other regions affected by this disaster, should have all of its officers brought to account for this disaster.

Yet, the president has  not been able to summon the passion to condemn this crime. Fine, set up a commission, if you must. But, first, BP executives should be wearing prison jumpsuits.

Cheney has some explaining to do. Before Congress.

A final question: Why is it that Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s employer) is always around looking guilty whenever something is hurting our nation?

Going ‘Round . . .

Martin Schilde, my friend in the Northwest, sent the following passage in an e-mail. I guess it’s making the round but I don’t know what to make of it, other than it is charming:

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her
altitude and spotted a man in a boat below on a lake. She shouted to
him, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him
an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, “You’re in a hot air
balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 1,346 feet
above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and
100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, “You must be an Obama Democrat.”

“I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically
correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I’m
still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help to me.”

The man smiled and responded, “You must be a Republican.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist. “How did you know?”

“Well,” said the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re
going. You’ve risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.
You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to
solve your problem. You’re in exactly the same position you were in
before we met, but somehow, now it’s my fault.”

Howell Raines is Neither a ‘Liar’ Nor is He Crazy

In this Sunday’s Washington Post Op-Ed, he asks questions that have long needed to be asked.

Take this one, his first:

Why haven’t America’s old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration — a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

It is not enough to ignore Fox News anymore because, clearly some people are watching and they are forming their opinions of what is happening in the world based on what that outlet tells them. The question that Raines asks is this: In the face of silence from all known authorities, when every credible voice is silent, who will tell the people the truth?

Of course, much of Raines’ cherished media is either in dire straits and/or too compromised to do much of anything about any issue of importance facing the nation. A case in point being Raines’ old shop, the New York Times.

Why has our profession, through its general silence — or only spasmodic protest — helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt? The standard answer is economics, as represented by the collapse of print newspapers and of audience share at CBS, NBC and ABC. Some prominent print journalists are now cheering Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp. (which owns the Fox network) for his alleged commitment to print, as evidenced by his willingness to lose money on the New York Post and gamble the overall profitability of his company on the survival of the Wall Street Journal. This is like congratulating museums for preserving antique masterpieces while ignoring their predatory methods of collecting.

Why can’t American journalists steeped in the traditional values of their profession be loud and candid about the fact that Murdoch does not belong to our team? His importation of the loose rules of British tabloid journalism, including blatant political alliances, started our slide to quasi-news. His British papers famously promoted Margaret Thatcher’s political career, with the expectation that she would open the nation’s airwaves to Murdoch’s cable channels. Ed Koch once told me he could not have been elected mayor of New York without the boosterism of the New York Post.

The rest of the piece, which continues here, is just as sharp and on point, despite Bill O’Reilly’s protestations.

Editorials: President Barack Obama

The New York Times:

This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing and reflecting on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama defeated first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear.

Mr. Obama won the election because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He promised to lead a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.

Continue . . .

A new direction in challenging times, a new dawn in the nation’s long struggle to bridge its racial divide.

BARACK OBAMA, 44th president of the United States: Like so many millions of Americans, we savor the phrase, and congratulate the winner, and celebrate the momentousness of the occasion. It is momentous for the generational change it heralds, the geographic realignment it reflects and the racial progress it both acknowledges and promises. Most of all, Mr. Obama’s victory is momentous for the opportunity it presents to put the country on a new and better path.

No one can minimize the challenges Mr. Obama will face, including that of reaching out to the Americans who voted for his opponent. He owes his victories in previously red states such as Ohio and Virginia — which last voted for a Democrat for president 44 years ago — in part to the nation’s deep unhappiness with George W. Bush and its anxiety about the economy. But his victories in states in every region of the country also demonstrate voters’ willingness to give the new president a chance to put into practice a more responsible economic program than that practiced by Mr. Bush or preached by John McCain. The excitement that Mr. Obama generated among his supporters suggests a capacity to inspire and reassure a worried and divided nation. His efficient, disciplined and, at times, ruthless campaign suggests a capacity to manage a government beset by problems of unimaginable complexity. And his combination of intelligence and eloquence, along with his evident instincts for consensus, offers hope that he can provide the leadership the nation so badly needs.

Continue . . .

Strength of our faiths

Among the photographs taken by the photog Platon of hundreds of men and women who volunteered to serve in the military and were sent to Iraq or Afghanistan was this striking one of Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. Gen. Colin Powell mentioned the photograph in denouncing the religious bias of people who were accusing Sen. Barack Obama of being a muslim.

This issue has bothered me all year long and everyone has acted disgracefully on the subject, even my candidate, Sen. Barack Obama.

“He’s a muslim,” people have said about him.

Obama, who has taken on all questions and issues with elan, somehow could not figure out how to handle this issue.

His response has basically been: “Who are you calling a muslim? I am a christian!”

The accusation of course rests on the premise that all muslims are terrorists, which is a disgraceful lie unbecoming of our great nation.

Americans who use someone’s supposed religion as a wedge issue should be ashamed of themselves. This is what I expected to hear from Obama. He has handled all other questions that have come his way this election season so expertly that I was mystified why the answer to this one eluded him, why he could not find the grace to not only beat back this slander but welcome muslims into his ever widening tent.

Leave it to Gen. Colin Powell in his endorsement statement to restore my faith in our nation. Gen. Powell found just the right words. First, he saidhe was troubled that Republicans (and some Democrats) have been spreading rumors that Obama is a Muslim.

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, “He’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists.”

This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards—Purple Heart, Bronze Star—showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I’m troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

It was a tremendously clarifying statement and an affirmation of our diverse and pluralistic society, which has been the envy of the world. We largely don’t engage in ethnic cleansing despite our multitudes of peoples. We strive to build a tolerant society. Gen. Powell told us that even, especially, in the pursuit of the highest office in the land, we must remember the nation that we aspire to be.

Steal back your vote

Theft of the 2008 Election

Will the GOP’s campaign to deter new voters and discard Democratic ballots determine the next president? by ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. & GREG PALAST

These days, the old west rail hub of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is little more than a dusty economic dead zone amid a boneyard of bare mesas. In national elections, the town overwhelmingly votes Democratic: More than 80 percent of all residents are Hispanic, and one in four lives below the poverty line. On February 5th, the day of the Super Tuesday caucus, a school-bus driver named Paul Maez arrived at his local polling station to cast his ballot. To his surprise, Maez found that his name had vanished from the list of registered voters, thanks to a statewide effort to deter fraudulent voting. For Maez, the shock was especially acute: He is the supervisor of elections in Las Vegas.

STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, part I

Maez was not alone in being denied his right to vote. On Super Tuesday, one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists. The numbers were even higher in precincts like Las Vegas, where nearly 20 percent of the county’s voters were absent from the rolls. With their status in limbo, the voters were forced to cast “provisional” ballots, which can be reviewed and discarded by election officials without explanation. On Super Tuesday, more than half of all provisional ballots cast were thrown out statewide.

STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, PART II

This November, what happened to Maez will happen to hundreds of thousands of voters across the country. In state after state, Republican operatives — the party’s elite commandos of bare-knuckle politics — are wielding new federal legislation to systematically disenfranchise Democrats. If this year’s race is as close as the past two elections, the GOP’s nationwide campaign could be large enough to determine the presidency in November. “I don’t think the Democrats get it,” says John Boyd, a voting-rights attorney in Albuquerque who has taken on the Republican Party for impeding access to the ballot. “All these new rules and games are turning voting into an obstacle course that could flip the vote to the GOP in half a dozen states.”

Continue . . .