Federal Court Says Murkowski In, Miller Out

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

I wrote the other day about Joe Miller’s refusal to accept defeat in his race against Lisa Murkowski, who was the victim of a Palin-Tea Party Express ambush before the primary. She came back strong in a write-in campaign and edged Joe Miller in the general election.

Murkowski had the grace to accept defeat in the primary. Joe Miller hasn’t been able to demonstrate he even knows what grace is, let alone intends to demonstrate it. It’s not for lack of opportunity:

Joe just lost out on his federal case – the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his lawsuit on Tuesday, just a week after the Alaska Supreme Court did the same. The federal judge said Miller hadn’t raised any federal issues and that he would not second guess the Alaska Supreme Court. Take that, Sarah Palin! You brought in out-of-state money to beat Lisa Murkowski but the much-hated federal government won’t interfere in what is the state’s business.

How that must hurt.

Miller of course, is still whining:

“I am disappointed with the federal court’s ruling today. The U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause presented the most significant constitutional issue. Specifically, should the courts be required to follow the legislature’s standard for the selection of U.S. senators or create their own? My legal team believes that the clear language of the Election Clause as well as precedent support our claims. Thus, we are evaluating the ruling and determining what our next step should be.”

Miller can always appeal. But that won’t stop Lisa Murkowski from taking her seat in the 112th Congress on January 5 because the federal judge lifted the hold on the certification of the election.

It’s a done deal. Only Joe Miller seems unaware of it.

Miller beat Murkowski in the August GOP primary but lost to her in the November election. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled against him. A federal judge has ruled against him. More importantly, the people of Alaska ruled against him by casting more ballots for Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News

“This is pretty great news. It means that I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that next week Alaska will have two senators in the United States Senate and there would not be any lapse that could have happened had certification been held up very much longer.”

She has reason to be happy.

“I have had a bottle of champagne in just about every refrigerator where I have visited over this Christmas holiday, and I haven’t been able to release that cork yet.”

What Miller will do is anyone’s guess. Unlike one of Palin’s other favorites, he’s an employable individual, being an attorney and all, and won’t have to steal from his campaign funds to get by, or form a pac to give himself a paycheck. Even so, he really wanted that seat and he shows no signs of giving up trying to find a way to weasel it out of the winner’s hands.

I suggested last time Miller hold man up. I won’t suggest any of us hold our breaths.

16 responses so far

Joe Miller Says He’ll Hold His Breath Until They Let Him Win

Dec 28 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski

Fairbanks attorney and would-be totalitarian strongman Joe Miller apparently will not try to perform a citizens arrest on Lisa Murkowski. He will, however, take her to federal court for having the audacity to defeat him in the general election after losing the August 24 primary in a write-in campaign.

Never mind that it was the Tea Party that originally came in to steal Murkowski’s seat out from under her.

We all remember Karl Rove’s judgment:

“Absolutely no she can’t win. Under the law, you have to carefully spell the name exactly correct, now everyone go to your pencil and paper and write the name ‘Murkowski’ and see if you got it right.”

“No, she’s going to lose,” he said.

And Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) used a Tea Party fundraiser to call her a “big-tent hypocrite” and said she had betrayed the conservative cause.

Republican cannibalism at its best – or worst.

But she didn’t lose. She outraged the Tea Party by actually winning.

And what neither Karl Rove nor Joe Miller (nor, most certainly, Sarah Palin) reckoned on was the innate fairness of the process. The state Division of Elections established guidelines before counting even began that the voter’s intent had to count when writing-in a vote.

God forbid fairness should enter into the democratic process. “We can’t have that!” the Tea Party says.

So Miller lost fair and square. That’s not just a liberal writer saying that, it’s the Alaska Supreme Court, the law of the land. But that is Joe Miler’s whining lament: she cheated! Egads, people misspelled her name. Has she no shame claiming the victory?

The Alaskan Supreme Court ruled against him. The message from the voters was “You lost, Joe.” The message from the highest court in the state was the same: “You lost, Joe.”

“There are no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified.”

But Joe claims that the sanctity of the election process is at stake. Meaning, he can’t possibly have lost. Perhaps God promised him a victory or something. After all, he promised one to Sarah Palin too on the eve of the ’08 Election Day.

Apparently, those nasty feds aren’t so nasty when Joe’s victory is at stake. To hell with the State of Alaska. What do the feds say? Does the Tea Party have no shame, throwing the state under the bus and trying to trump with the federal courts?

Did the world just turn upside down?

I’m unclear as to how losing an election fair and square violates the sanctity of the democratic process but then, I’ve never performed a citizens arrest on somebody who asked me a question.

For the record, this is Joe’s reasoning:

“After careful consideration and seeking the counsel of people whose opinion I respect and trust, I have decided that the federal case must go forward. The integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard. Nevertheless, I have also decided to withdraw our opposition to the certification of the election, ensuring that Alaska will have its full delegation seated when the 112th Congress convenes next month.”

What a guy. Such a gesture of magnanimity!

There really wasn’t much magnanimity evident in Joe’s official protest. As his spokesman Randy DeSota said on Wednesday,

“We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment.”

Of course, the Alaskan Supreme Court made just that ruling, that state law had not been violated. End of story.

Not so, says Joe.

Of course, none of this surprises Lisa Murkowski, who has already been exposed to the limitless, mindless hate and nihilism of Tea Party politics. Her campaign fully expected Joe Miller to be a big crybaby.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this whole situation is that with or without the contested votes, Joe Miller has lost. Lisa Murkowski ended up with a lead of 10,328 votes.  Joe says 8,159 of those votes can’t count. Even without them, however, Lisa Murkowski still has a 2,169 vote lead.

There is a great deal wrong with this picture. There is the Republican betrayal of Lisa Murkowski later reinterpreted as a betrayal by Lisa Murkowski, another Sarah Palin demagogue who like Christine O’Donnell showed himself completely unequal to the office to which he sought election (a real chip off the old block), and then, when the people had spoken, when the State of Alaska had spoken, these Tea Party tenthers turn around and appeal to the hated feds to overturn the state. We’ll leave aside for the moment the sheer childishness of Miller’s position on this. What does he do for an encore? Hold his breath?

No, take your medicine Joe. In Palin-speak, find your cojones and man up. Vox populi: The people have spoken. Isn’t that supposed to be what the Tea Party is all about? But it isn’t, is it Joe? It’s not about what the people want: it’s about what you want, what Sarah Palin wants, what Christine O’Donnell wants – a free lunch.

13 responses so far

START Treaty Overcomes Two Republican Amendments

President Obama and Congressional Democrats hope to ratify the START Treaty Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ) negotiated between the U.S. and Russia back in April, before the 111th Congress breaks for the final time. The 112th Congress with its diminished Democratic majority takes their seats in January; their 58-42 majority was reduced to 53-47 in November.

We have addressed this matter frequently here at PoliticusUSA, and with good reason. Republican opponents have made clear their intention to obstruct passage of the Treaty and in this at least, if not their economic policies, they have been true to their word. I wrote originally about this Republican gamesmanship back on November 17. And as Sarah Jones reported on December 4, and both she and Jason Easley reported again on December 16, the Republicans are guilty of holding our national security hostage.

RMuse reported on December 17 about the Republican attempt to use Christmas as an excuse to ignore important matters of national security. They could apparently impeach President Clinton for Jesus’ birthday but not ratify a treaty. This holiday, they tell us, is all about world peace; but apparently not world peace when it’s sponsored by a Democrat.

The many excuses offered read like a Letterman Top 10 list, and are as unconvincing:

1)      We don’t have time because there is too much else to do

2)      We don’t have time because it’s Baby Jesus’ birthday

3)      We don’t have time because it’s too complex for us to understand

4)      We’ll lose our ability to set up a missile defense system

5)      We want tax cuts for the rich first

6)      We have to modernize our nuclear weapons complex first

The Democrats and the White House have taken note of these many absurd excuses and have been pushing all the buttons they can, and have several cogent arguments to offer:

Wednesday, the Senate voted 66-32 to open debate on the treaty. At that time, nine Republicans voted with 55 Democrats and two independents, including Richard Lugar of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain. Those 66 votes are one short of what would be needed to ratify the treaty.

The Republicans countered with an attempt to amend the terms of the treaty. An amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., failed on Saturday on a 59-37 vote.

The Russians have made clear that any amendment means the treaty is dead. We’d have to go back to start on START, and negotiate an entirely new treaty, which suits Republican purposes well.

On Sunday, that attempt failed on a 32-60 vote. The amendment was put forward by Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. It would have changed the preamble to the treaty to address the “inter-relationship between non-strategic and strategic offensive arms.

Republicans continue to complain that the preamble would inhibit U.S. development of a missile defense system.

Democrats hope to vote on ratification on Tuesday. Republicans have their hackles up, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to CNN that “Members are uneasy about it, don’t feel thoroughly familiar with it, and I think we would have been a lot better off to take our time. Rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us. … I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

Of course, a vote on Tuesday would not be rushing it. The Senators have had all year to look at the treaty. It is not as if it was negotiated yesterday.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, isn’t having any of that. He has pointed out that there had already been several delays to give Kyl and the other Republicans an opportunity to have their concerns addressed. “We kept the door open until we finally are at a point where obviously we had to fish or cut bait.”.

Despite Republican opposition by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, Fox News reports that “Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a supporter of the treaty, said several Republicans will support ratification and he believes the votes are there.”

Senator Evan Bayh missed the vote but according to an aide would provide the needed 67th vote, offering some hope that Republican efforts will be for naught.

It goes not only against the spirit of Reagan, who proposed the original START Treaty, but the advice of the military (who, after all, ought to be the experts in this area) to obstruct passage of this very important treaty and which makes clear that continued Republican opposition is simply a continuation of their two-year-old effort to block everything President Obama tries to do.

At least Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has given up his attempt to have the document read on the floor of the Senate, a process which would take some fifteen hours given the treaty’s 17 pages plus 339 pages of protocol and annexes, a sign that perhaps he realizes he can’t stop the process at this point as he turns his wrath on the $1.1 trillion government spending bill, should it come up. There are always new battles to fight, after all, and new excuses to invent. Life’s busy for a Republican senator these days.

8 responses so far

Money and Lies at the Heart of Republican Strategy in 2010

Nov 21 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

60 Plus Association Mailing

More disinformation than information has circled around President Obama’s healthcare reform bill thanks to the Republicans. These lies take many forms, from chain emails, YouTube videos, and of course, the mouths of Republican politicians and pundits. They delegitimize it by calling it, derisively, “Obamacare” in an effort to make it seem absurd. I mean, who would want health insurance, right? You would think it was the craziest idea in the world.

One of the rumors currently making the rounds – I know because my son’s nurse brought it up – is physician reimbursement. The story is that thanks to Obamacare, physicians will receive less medicare reimbursement, that this will be a disaster for seniors, that doctors will even drop their patients rather than be adequately compensated for their work.

This particular lie really took off in September of this year, leading up to the midterm elections. A conservative group, the 60 Plus Association (a supposedly non-partisan “seniors advocacy group”), attacked sixteen Democrats. Many of these Democrats were engaged in tight House races – the House Republicans ended up in control of. If you think Republicans won because dirty it’s because, well…the Republicans won dirty. They have been buying elections for over a century and they see no reason to drop a successful strategy.

As FactCheck.org reported, “$5 million – from donors whose identities it doesn’t have to disclose – to run the ads saying the lawmakers “betrayed” their constituents by voting for the health care overhaul signed into law earlier this year.”

According to FactCheck.org:

  • Some of the ads say that the law means “seniors could lose their doctors” or that it “threatens seniors’ ability to keep their own doctor.” But what the ads are talking about here has nothing to do with the new health care law. Some doctors have said they may stop accepting Medicare patients because of scheduled payment cuts set in motion by a 1997 law, cuts that are unaffected by the new statute.
  • All of the ads say that the new law cuts $500 billion from Medicare. It’s true that the law would restrain future growth of the program, but this isn’t cutting from existing spending. And the amount is spread over 10 years, totaling about 7 percent of what Medicare was projected to cost over that decade.
  • Many of the ads feature seniors saying the law will “hurt the quality of our care.” But the law specifically forbids cuts in the basic package of Medicare benefits, and even adds some new features, such as wellness checkups. It also closes the “doughnut hole” gap in the prescription drug benefit.

But if any physicians drop their patients, it won’t be because of “Obamacare.” It will be because of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act. FactCheck.org analyzes the lie in detail (emphasis mine):

Although the ads cite an April report from the office of the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as support for this claim, that report actually discusses cuts the law makes in payments to other providers, such as hospitals and nursing homes – not doctors. The required cuts could make it difficult for some such providers to stay in business, the report says, “possibly jeopardizing access to care” from those institutions for seniors.

But that report and another CMS document issued in August also note that Congress has a habit of negating such cuts. In fact, the August report says with respect to the legislated payment cuts to hospitals and other such non-physician providers, “Congress is very likely to legislatively override or otherwise modify the reductions in the future to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to health care services.”

After all, the report notes, look what lawmakers have done to scheduled cuts to doctors’ pay that were mandated by the 1997 law: “Congress has overridden all of the scheduled reductions [for physicians] from 2003 to November 2010,” the report says. And for the hospitals and other providers covered by the new law: “Congress would presumably act to adjust Medicare payment rates as necessary” before the providers withdrew from the program.

“But,” asked the Washington Post, “how much did the health-care law passed this year have to do with Republicans winning back the House and gaining six seats in the Senate?” Their analysis provided several answers, from “yes” to “no” based on exit data and on the opinions of Democratic and Republican strategists

Did it work? Let’s take a look. Here are the folks who were targeted:

  • Rep. Paul Kanjorski, Pennsylvania; LOST
  • Rep. Chris Carney, Pennsylvania; LOST
  • Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, Pennsylvania; LOST
  • Tim Bishop, New York; IN RECOUNT
  • Scott Murphy, New York; LOST
  • Alan Grayson, Florida; LOST
  • Allen Boyd, Florida; LOST
  • Suzanne Kosmas, Florida; LOST
  • Steve Kagen, Wisconsin; LOST
  • Ron Kind, Wisconsin; WON
  • John Boccieri in Ohio; LOST
  • Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona; LOST
  • Harry Mitchell, Arizona; LOST
  • Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona; WON
  • Joe Donnelly in Indiana; WON
  • Roy Herron, Tennessee; LOST

That’s sixteen candidates; only three of them have won – 18% if Tim Bishop loses. If Tim Bishop wins, 25%. The Republicans will have won 75% of races in which they made allegations of betrayal against Democratic candidates based on healthcare reform. It seems, in these races at least, healthcare reform may have been an issue.

The Republicans know they can’t win on the issues; they have to lie on the issues. They have to disenfranchise voting blocks who will present opposition to them. They have to buy elections by outspending – sometimes obscenely – Democratic candidates. Sharron Angle, for example, spent $97 per vote. Linda McMahan (wife of WWE owner Vince McMahon) spent $95 per vote and Meg Whitman in California spent $57 per vote (Linda McMahan spent an obscene $454 per vote in successful her primary race, Meg Whitman a more modest $64/vote). All three of them lost, ironically, which shows that even money has limitations when a candidate is obviously unfit.

It is when the money is spent on lies and disinformation that true damage is done, as in these sixteen races, and about this issue, healthcare reform. It’s a pity the Republicans won’t deal with the issues, either in political campaigning or when it’s over, but simply tell lies, repeating them over and over and spending millions to make sure you hear them, and to cast doubt, even if you don’t believe them. For a party that claims that “throwing money at a problem” won’t make it go away, the Republicans sure do like to throw money at a problem. Even worse for America, all too often, their pockets are deep enough to make it stick.

But do we need campaign finance reform? Nah, just like we don’t need healthcare reform.

6 responses so far

Republicans Talk and Hate and Offer no Solutions

Right now, the closest thing the Republicans seem to have to a real policy is orchestrating a win for Bristol on DWTS.

I don’t want to beat a dead dog, but I want to know what the Republican idea of foreign policy is. The Bush administration showed a clear and persistent disdain for diplomacy, preferring instead to simply invade other countries, and the Republicans seem to want to continue in this vein. The sabre-rattling continues unabated and every day seems to reveal another Republican demanding blood.

  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to invade Iran
  • Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) opposes cuts in defense spending
  • Jon Kyl says Congress doesn’t have time to ratify the new START treaty
  • Michele Bachman (R-MN) says Obama is going to let Iran nuke Israel

Why aren’t these people talking about the economy, about lost jobs, or about tackling the deficit? Really the only thing they’ve had to say so far about the economy is that they want to ban earmarks, which amount to less than half of one percent of the federal budget. Military spending accounts for over 50%.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist here to figure out that something isn’t right. So let’s try to understand this:

  • Banning earmarks, 0.5% of the federal budget will fix the economy
  • Keeping or increasing military spending, which is more than 50% of the economy, won’t hurt the economy
  • And we might as well add keeping the tax breaks for the rich, which won’t hurt the economy either, somehow

No, it still doesn’t make sense, does it?

Come to think of it, I want to know what the Republican idea of domestic policy is. Do they have one of those either? It doesn’t seem so; no foreign policy ideas and no domestic policy ideas. Just…nothing. Nothing at all.

Oh, they’re against a lot of things. It would take more time than I have to list it all. But they don’t seem to have any solutions either on a global or on a local scale beyond a nihilistic denial of everything.

It’s a matter of very simple mathematics. You don’t even have to drag economics into it. It’s just that simple: to spend money you have to have money, or you create deficit spending. You owe money. Right? We all know that. We experience it every day with house payments, car payments, credit cards and any other kind of loan.

The only way to balance things out is to make more money, or to spend less money.

Is that so hard to understand? And money has to come from somewhere. The government isn’t a corporation. It gets money from taxes. That is the money the federal government has to spend. If the government cuts taxes, it has less money.

But the Republicans want to continue to spend money. They don’t want you to have healthcare, they don’t want you to have unemployment insurance or social security. But they do want to buy more guns, tanks, planes and missiles.

I may not be a rocket scientist but I don’t think a missile is going to do any of us a helluva lotta good.

So we are justified in asking: What the hell kind of policy is this?

You’d probably get a lot of dumb looks if you actually asked. Michele Bachman apparently didn’t have a clue that the Bush administration had engaged in diplomatic relations and even state visits with Iran’s president, the much loathed Ahmadinejad. At least, she didn’t want to talk about that when it was brought up while she was busy denouncing Obama.

What other policies do the Republicans have?

  • They’re against same-sex marriage
  • They’re against repealing DADT in the military
  • They’re against abortion
  • They’re against the building of mosques in the U.S.
  • They’re against “Obamacare”
  • They’re against immigrants
  • They’re against federal regulations unless morally based
  • They’re against the environment and alternative energy
  • They’re against high speed rail

Does any of this help us with the two matters about which Americans are most concerned, jobs and health? No, not at all. You can ban same-sex marriages, keep DADT in place, ban abortion and mosques, and people still won’t have jobs and if they succeed in repealing what they derisively call “Obamacare” they won’t have health insurance either. Meanwhile, federal regulations protect the average citizen from corporate abuses and “green” programs and high speed rail would put thousands back to work and money into the economy. We can’t have that, apparently.

Again: what the hell kind of policy is this?

Will returning to a Bronze Age morality code put the economy back on track or keep people healthy? No, not so much.

Meanwhile, these new Republican politicians who campaigned steadfastly against health insurance for the rest of us want their own, and they don’t want to wait the required 28 days for it.

This is what voters have given us, a nihilistic party spouting slogans so absurd they can’t be taken seriously as a political movement. A political movement has to be about something. The Republican party is not. It is against a lot of things, but it offers us no path forward, no coherent policy that will lead us out of the mess their lack of vision steered us into.

Why are they back in office? Better than asking that, get out and vote next time and make sure they don’t get the executive back. The damage they can do is limited by the powers granted the House in the Constitution. Sanity still reigns in the Executive and in the  Senate, and I suspect that two years of Republican pseudo-policy might jar the electorate sufficiently to save them both in 2012, particularly if Palin runs, but the danger is real and the danger remains.

Demand answers, America. Demand solutions, demand action, real, meaningful action, and start asking of these people, “Why do you want Bristol to win?”

8 responses so far

Republicans Stall the START Treaty And Dream of More Deficit Spending

President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev sign START

Here is what we’re hearing from the Republicans since the midterms:

1)      Attack Iran

2)      Do not cut defense spending

3)      Put nuclear treaty with Russia on back burner

In exchange, Republicans have said they will voluntarily forgo earmarks.

There should be dancing in the street.

Smoke and mirrors is how the Republicans govern. Lots of flash, lots of misdirection (invade Iraq, anyone?) and endless spin, but nothing of any real substance, no evidence that any Republican is really interested in real world problems or in solving them.

Jon Kyl, who is the second-ranking Senate Republican said Congress is too busy to consider the nuclear treaty, signed by Obama in April.

“When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame-duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization.”

It’s not as if getting control of nuclear stockpiles is important or anything. The new START treaty would commit the U.S. and Russia to cut their deployed nuclear weapons by about 30 percent within seven years.

Of course, ratifying the treaty is one of President Obama’s major goals. It’s no surprise that the Republicans don’t find it important. They’re going to be too busy grandstanding to actually do anything.

And what does Kyl want? Kyl wants more money for modernization of U.S. strategic forces i.e. nuclear forces. But Obama did pledge to spend $80 billion over the next decade on upgraded our nuclear forces. Doesn’t sound too complex to me.

Always with the defense spending. The Republicans seem to have a one-track mind.

You would think Republicans would be concerned about Russia’s nuclear weapons. After all, they might fall into the hands of terrorists. And as Vice President Joe Biden points out,

“Without ratification of this treaty, we will have no Americans on the ground to inspect Russia’s nuclear activities, no verification regime to track Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal … and no verified nuclear reductions.”

Gosh, you think it might be the oversight that bothers Republicans? They don’t want oversight anywhere, not of the oil industry, Wall Street, or even their own ethics. Maybe they don’t think the Russians should be bothered by it either.

Apparently they only care about WMDs when Iraq or Iran have them, er, um…make that don’t have them.

Republicans claim we need an anti-missile defense system [cue to them rubbing their hands greedily together in anticipation]. But isn’t the best way to get rid of a missile threat to get rid of the missiles themselves? Oh wait, a missile defense system is another way to spend money and ratchet up the U.S. deficit. Getting rid of missiles gives Republicans less to spend money on.

Now I get it.

Though they really don’t have any valid argument to base their objections on. Ambassador Richard Burt,  who was one of the chief negotiators when the original START treaty was agreed, points out that his is a rather modest agreement that reduces existing U.S. forces by between 20 and 25 percent,” he said. “It doesn’t affect our existing force structure of bombers and land-based missiles and sea-based missiles. And it provides for a very rigorous verification regime.”

Sounds good to me. It’s not as if the treaty will make America weaker, or threaten our national security, which is what Republicans claim they are concerned about. But defense spending has become as important to Republicans as abortion, and they are ideologically wedded to both. Meanwhile, they will continue to play games and pretend to be concerned about the deficit, and expect the American people to go along with their spiel. Republicans likely will, if only with a nod and a wink (the alternative is stupidity and I want to be magnanimous) but Democrats and independents ought to be concerned.

There is simply no excuse to keep defense spending where it is when so many Americans are suffering and being asked to give up so much. It is not justified by circumstances and it is completely and irredeemably immoral.

13 responses so far

What do the Midterms Mean to Congressional Women?

Nov 12 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Sarah Palin’s Mama Grizzlies were extinctified in the recent midterms (can I use that expression, Sarah? I made it up myself!).

What the heck happened to all those Republican women? Those strong-hearted Mama Grizzlies like Angle and O’Donnell and Fiorina? Women didn’t do so well. Women got elected, sure, but there will be no more women in Congress as a result of those elections than there were before.

CNN reports some basic facts about women in American government, and they’re sobering:

  • Record number of new GOP faces in Congress in 2011 will be women
  • Overall number of women in Congress will not increase, however
  • Women make up 17 percent of Congress
  • U.S. ranks 90th in the world when it comes to number of women in national legislatures.

“In fact,” CNN goes on to reveal, “this election year will mark the first time in nearly three decades that women have not increased their ranks in Congress.” There is something that must be pointed out, however, with regards to America’s ranking in the world: other countries have quotas that ensure enough women serve.

Still, 17 percent is not too impressive and it doesn’t sound like we took step forward, which is no surprise considering we’re talking about a Republican victory.

Before you start saying the Democrats are afraid of strong Republican women, think about this:

Sure, 113 GOP women challenged incumbents compared to 80 Democrats but the Democrats had a 46 percent success rate compared to only 28 for the Republicans. And Democrat women still far outnumber Republican women in Congress.

Sarah Palin can try to co-opt feminism for her own non-feminist purposes but the numbers don’t lie.

And leadership roles? Fuhgeddaboudit!

The Democrats had a female Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. She will likely remain minority leader.

Three women, all Democrats, will be losing their committee chairs:

  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) Chair, House Rules Committee;
  • Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) Chair, Small Business Committee, and
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Chair, House Ethics Committee.

If you’re keeping track, that’s three Democratic women out of leadership positions, four if you count Pelosi. CNN reports that only one woman is likely to assume a committee chair position:

The only woman expected to take over a House committee is [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen, who is likely to become chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The new Republican Speaker of the House is a male. And not one single member of his leadership team is a woman. All men. Boehner’s Boys they’re already calling them. Crazy Michele Bachman tried to break into that Good Old Boys club but failed. She dropped out of the running on Wednesday.

The highest ranked Republican woman will be ranked fifth from the top, counting the Speaker. This will be Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who it is believed will retain her vice chair of the House GOP Conference.

I guess Republicans don’t mind women in the House, they just want them in the kitchen.

So what is it with Republicans and women? You can say in defense of the GOP that there are too few Republican women with seniority to assume leadership roles but whose fault is that? It’s not the fault of Democrats that there have been few GOP women; after all, we elect plenty of our own. The blame points squarely where it belongs: at the GOP Good Old Boys club.

The accusation of misogyny has been laid before their door already, and it’s still on the table. The recent elections featured many female Republican candidates but few were elected and none of them were given leadership roles. This doesn’t sound like a female-friendly bunch.

And let’s face it, where the general elections were concerned and Democrats played a part, you can’t pretend that Angle, O’Donnell and Fiorina were candidates who could be or should be taken seriously. It was a joke, right? Had to be. It wasn’t sexism that defeated the Three Amigas but “stupidism,” the tendency of voters to reject outrageously, catastrophically incompetent candidates.

I mean it was a joke, right? Tell me it was a joke.

But Republicans have a difficult time coming to grips with their racism and they have a difficult time coming to grips with their misogyny. They like to throw both back at liberals and make the claim that liberals are racists and misogynists but the facts just don’t bear this out. The GOP is its own worst enemy, so anti-everything that it’s created a tent too small for anyone but a few rich white men and their sycophants.

Why a woman would even want to join this group is beyond me but to each his own. The point is that the Republicans are not interested in advancing a feminist agenda; they don’t believe in feminism because deep down in their heart of hearts they don’t believe women are as good as men. Look at the bimbos in push-up bras they line up to sell their propaganda on FOX News. If they took women seriously, you wouldn’t be seeing that.

But they don’t, and I think that says it all.

12 responses so far

Going Rogue: The Bush Doctrine and American Exceptionalism

Nov 09 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Fruits of the Bush Doctrine

What is a pre-emptive or preventative war? A pre-emptive war is one you initiate if you think somebody is going to attack you, and you want to get the first blow in; in other words, pre-empt their attack. Obviously, having the initiative is a good thing in warfare, something you never want to lose. In the First World War, Germany adopted a pre-emptive strategy to attack France. Everybody in Europe was upset about Austria going after Serbia; Russia was mobilizing. France was not. No one but Austria and Serbia were actively at war. But the German plan called for taking France out first and then focusing on Russia. Russia was a potential threat. France was a potential threat.

The German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg asked General Moltke:  “Is the Fatherland in danger?”

Moltke said, “Yes”.

It was as easy as that. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 and France on August 3, 1914. But it wasn’t as simple or quick as anyone thought; it guided the history of Europe for half a century. There might still be a few people who do not realize that the Second World War was a continuation of the First.

Many excuses have been used to declare war over the many centuries of human existence. Humans love to make excuses; it makes them feel better about things, even when there is no real excuse.

Rome, for example, used a flimsy pretext to take out what was left of hated Carthage in 146 B.C.E. Of course, Carthage after losing the first two wars was no threat at all to Rome. It had been disarmed and in the words of Senator Lindsey Graham, “neutered.” But Carthage had grain. Rome needed grain. This excuse would come up less than a century later when Rome began to become involved with Ptolemaic Egypt. Keep that excuse in the back of your mind as we go along here.

Great Britain felt it had the right to interfere in European affairs and build coalition after coalition to defeat Napoleon, not because Napoleon, becoming emperor had attacked Britain (he had fought them as a general of the First Republic) but because they saw Napoleon as a threat. His rise to the rule of France had upset the Old Order of kings. It did not matter in the end if Napoleon wanted peace or not (and he has shouldered an unfair proportion of blame since 1815 since the victors wrote the history books), Britain was going to take him out. And they did.

Iraq: The Bush Doctrine at Work

There is a parallel here with Saddam Hussein. It didn’t matter if Saddam behaved or not. George W. Bush was going to take him out. He was talking about it as early as 1999, whatever lies he is telling in his recent autobiography. And it was really just an excuse. Bush knew as well as anyone that Saddam was no threat to the U.S. Bush’s father had stomped him (can we say “neutered”?) in the first Gulf War and the Iraqi dictator had been more or less behaving since then.

Bush said, “He has weapons of mass destruction!”

Of course, this was not true, and Bush knew it was not true. But it was a handy excuse.

Bush said, “Saddam was behind 9/11!”

Of course, this was not true, and Bush knew it was not true. Saddam didn’t let al Qaeda operate in Iraq. He knew that al Qaeda was at war with the rest of Islam and that it was a threat to his regime.

But it was a handy excuse.

Besides, and shades of Rome and Carthage here, America needed oil and Iraq had oil.

Excuses, it is important to remember, are not the same thing as reasons. The United States had an excuse to attack Iraq, albeit, a manufactured excuse, but it had no legitimate reason. Iraq had no WMDs, it had no way to effectively attack the U.S.  even if it had wanted.

In the end, Bush got his war, took our eyes off his inept handling of domestic issues, and profited hugely in economic terms while thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, many of them innocent civilians. Iraq was literally ruined and is still recovering. Fifty-thousand American troops will remain there probably for years to come to bolster the new democratic regime.

None of this would be as relevant today if Republicans (and America’s belligerent ally, Israel) were not advocating attacking Iran, which, they claim, is a threat.

But it could equally and justly be argued that Israel and the U.S. are threats to Iran, couldn’t it? By this rationale doesn’t Iran have the right to attack us now, before we can attack them? And if they do, would we have a right to complain?

Who isn’t a threat to somebody else? If we all acted on potential threats the world be in a state of perpetual war. Does this line of reasoning make any sense at all?

The real problem lay in the assumption that if somebody is a threat to you that you have to attack them first. But you don’t. There is a thing called diplomacy. Clausewitz understood this if Bush did not: “War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means.”

Bush skipped the first part as irrelevant – political actions – diplomacy. For Bush, war became THE political instrument. No longer does war pick up where politics leave off; war becomes a substitution for politics.

Sarah Palin infamously did not know what the Bush Doctrine was, but we do, don’t we?

It was Dick Cheney who said it, of course:

“If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

This is, in a nutshell, the Bush Doctrine, also known as the One Percent Doctrine. But of course, the Bush Doctrine also enshrined such concepts as,

  1. Preventative (pre-emptive) war
  2. Deposing foreign regimes who might be a potential or perceived threat to U.S.  security
  3. Spreading democracy, especially in Middle East
  4. Unilateral pursuit of U.S. military interests

And all this packaged with an unhealthy dose of American Exceptionalism, the new term for extreme nationalism, the evils of which led to WWI and thus to WWII and thus to the Cold War.

In the end, it all boils down to “Might makes right.”

We modern folks look back on Empires like Rome and shake our heads at their naked imperialist ambitions (all too often not realizing or understanding the complexities of Rome’s relations with its neighbors) but apparently are willing to re-elect a political party in our own supposedly enlightened time that embraces a species of naked imperialism even Rome never suffered from. For example, Rome attacked Macedonia because Macedonia had sided with Hannibal and Carthage. But Saddam had not sided with al Qaeda and it was al Qaeda which attacked the United States, not Iraq.

The Roman Republic, with no court of world opinion, moved more reluctantly to war than the United States.

Essentially, Bush and Republicans like Lindsey Graham today seem to think that the One Percent Doctrine should be a permanent  part of substitute for American diplomacy. Anyone is a threat, might be a threat, or might be perceived as a threat: attack and destroy.

No, even empires like Rome did not operate like that. And no empire, including Rome, enjoyed the preponderance of force enjoyed by the United States today.

It is time to consider what would come of Republican victories in 2012. We can be reasonably certain that President Obama will not attack Iran. But a Republican president, like Bush fully backed (one might say owned by) profiteers and oil companies? It is time to be reducing an appeal to war, to making war less an instrument of policy and understand that for war should be a last, not a first resort.

11 responses so far

The Tale of the Weepy Orangeman

Nov 08 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The Orangeman's Two Emotions

What’s up with the weepy Orangeman in the House? You know who I’m talking about: the orange guy with wet eyes. He’s from Ohio I guess, though I haven’t asked to see his birth certificate, and maybe we should. I mean, people aren’t naturally that color, are they?

The Weepy Orangeman. Sounds like a disenchanted college football fan; or maybe a sad Irish Protestant. But no, it’s our very own All-American John Boehner whose name looks more fitting the way you’d think it’s pronounced than the way he pronounces it. And can you blame him? I mean, the guy really is a walking Boehner.

John Boehner (R) Ohio. Yep. Him.  We should get to know the weepy Orangeman better. After all, he is likely going to be the next Speaker of the House to replace Nancy Pelosi (maybe he won’t cry as much now). It will be interesting to see whether he can make himself as unpopular as she. But let’s get to the issues:

  • Women’s Reproductive Rights:  The Republican Party should maintain full control of a Woman’s body through federal legislation.
  • Budget & Economy:  Stimulus = bad. Government should not spend money! Oh, and I don’t understand any of this economy stuff.
  • Civil Rights: Gays and Lesbians have NO rights. Only heterosexuals are real people.
  • Corporations: He’s a Republican. What do you think?
  • Crime: It should be legal to beat up gays, more death penalties and fewer appeals.
  • Education: No money to schools but lots of prayer.
  • Energy and Oil: More CO2, less renewable energy and drill baby drill!
  • Environment: What environment? (Rated 5% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)).
  • Families & Children: This says it all: Rated 91% by the Christian Coalition: a pro-family voting record. (Dec 2003). See any correlation between this and his environmental record? I think you smell what I’m cooking.
  • Foreign Policy:  Doesn’t like democracy for Pakistan, likes nukes in India.
  • Free Trade: Screw you slackers who lost your jobs to globalization. Hates the WTO.
  • Government Reform: Government is too big and too intrusive except when it comes to women’s bodies in which case it can’t be intrusive enough. What goes on in a woman’s body is tantamount to a national security crisis. Government spends too much money. We told you he was a Republican.
  • Gun Control: Sigh. We told you he was a Republican, right? (Rated A by the NRA, indicating a pro-gun rights voting record. (Dec 2003)). Ya happy?
  • Health Care: Tobacco is NOT a drug, children don’t need more insurance and more kids don’t need insurance, and oh by the way, the government is too intrusive but like with women’s bodies we’re afraid we’re going to have to regulate suicides by saying, NO. Picking up a trend here?
  • Homeland Security: Not more federal regulation! Say it ain’t so, Orangeman! (Voted YES on federalizing rules for driver licenses to hinder terrorists. (Feb 2005). I thought we wanted the Feds out of our lives? What’s going on? And more defense spending? What about budget cuts, government spending and all that?
  • Immigration: Build Great Wall of USA and English as official language. Gotta wonder how we’re going to pay for that wall if the federal government shouldn’t spend money and we can’t raise taxes…Oh that’s right, Johnny Boy doesn’t understand economics (See Budget & Economy above).
  • Jobs: You don’t need a higher minimum wage; you think I’m really going to turn on my corporate masters? We did mention the Republican thing, right?
  • First Amendment: What First Amendment? (Rated 0% by the AU, indicating opposition to church-state separation. (Dec 2006)).
  • Social Security: Okay, his is really getting old. Hello! Republican! (Rated 0% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003))
  • Taxes: Rich people good, poor people bad (Limit welfare to 2 years & cut welfare spending. (Sep 1994). Anti-tax. How you going to pay for that increased defense spending, Orangeman?
  • Net Neutrality: Remember: Republican=Corporate (Voted NO on establishing “network neutrality” (non-tiered Internet). (Jun 2006)

So what do you think of our weepy Orangeman now? Yeah, he’s a Republican. He hates…well, pretty much everything. He favors lists of don’ts over lists of do’s, which is very Catholic of him, I suppose.

Obviously, given that we live in a modern liberal democracy founded on the principles of the European Enlightenment, there are some concerns with Boehner’s very old-fashioned, shall we say…conservative…positions. One might say ULTRA conservative.

Women and minorities have a right to be concerned, as should any who are concerned with world peace and international cooperation. What’s truly frightening is that Congress controls the purse strings and our probable future Speaker of the House has no grasp of economics. The idea that the government should not spend, that taxes are bad, do not jibe well with all the spending projects (Great Walls, huge militaries, wars, etc that Republicans traditionally embrace). This is, of course, why with Boehner’s economic plan we end up $3+ trillion in debt.

We should be very thankful that Democrats retain control of the Senate and that President Obama retains a veto and that Republicans lack enough seats to override that veto. The Republicans drove the car into the ditch once before and we all know they will try to do so again. It’s in their nature, after all. Fortunately, we still have one hand on the steering wheel ourselves and there is some small hope that further disaster can be averted, despite the Weepy Orangeman’s best efforts.

In the end, John Boehner is happy again, but America should not share his joy. Of course it could be worse. Michelle Bachman could always be Speaker of the House.

Yeah, you hear me.

7 responses so far

Emboldened by Victories, Republicans Back to Warmongering

Nov 06 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

Mark Udall, Norm Ornstein, and Lindsey Graham

Emboldened by their midterm victories, Republicans are already back to warmongering. Having invaded and conquered Iraq (where 50,000 U.S. troops remain to buttress the new government) and mired down in an endless war in Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) now wants to attack Iran.

Because attacking Iraq and Afghanistan was such a good idea, right Lindsey?

Speaking at a forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he said we need to “neuter” them:

“Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that’s a different military scenario. It’s not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back.”

You know, leaders have become war criminals for neutering their neighbors, so what makes Lindsey Graham any different?

He’s afraid of Iran’s possible future nuclear capability. Apparently he thinks that because a country that has never attacked us and never threatened to attack us might somebody be a threat, that we should attack them first.

Because this is legal under international law, right Lindsey?

No, it isn’t. It isn’t moral and it isn’t legal.

What Lindsey Graham is suggesting is that the United States become a rogue nation, like other nations who have run around attacking people on a whim. Remember when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Lindsey, because they saw the United States as a future possible threat?  We didn’t like that much did we, Lindsey? We roundly condemned them for it, didn’t we Lindsey? We called it a “Day of Infamy.”

Is illegally attacking Iraq not good enough for you? Then invading Afghanistan? You want a trifecta of infamy? And if some other country might someday pose a threat to the U.S., do you want to attack them to? Where does it end, Lindsey? Is Syria next? Who else is on your list of potential enemies?

Of course, Lindsey says he recognizes the risks: Yes, Iran might retaliate, he says, in Afghanistan or through terrorist attacks, but

“You can expect that. You can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose. You must have to almost plan for that. And weigh that against the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran and what that means to the future of the world.”

And it doesn’t hardly enter into it that the United States will see its stock drop still further in the international fraternity of nations.

Is this what you Republicans mean when you say President Obama is apologizing for the U.S.? That if we’re not attacking somebody we’re apologizing? Is that your rationale?

Lindsey thinks President Obama isn’t bold enough because of course, Post-Bush Republicans don’t recognize such a thing as international diplomacy?

Such a policy is at best reckless and at worst, catastrophic. But Lindsey is in a hurry. He wants action now because, he says, “Every day that goes by and we’re indifferent. … then that’s a day lost.”

All I can say is that it is a good thing for America and Iran – and for the world – that Lindsey Graham is not president. We don’t need any more wars right now, thank you, Lindsey. We have oh so many troops to spare.

Senator Mark Udall (D -Colorado) disagreed; pointing out that Lindsey’s plan would have “worldwide repercussions.”

“I’m not willing to put my support behind that step here in a theoretical context, but I think you’ve got to keep every option on the table and let the Iranian regime know that we’re deadly serious, not just as the United States of America, but as a world community.”

And paying for it, Lindsey? If you’re not going to consider the repercussions or the immorality of your proposal, consider the cost. How does balancing the budget and being fiscally responsible and not raising taxes pay for a war? Do you realize what we are still paying everyday for our presence in Iraq, for our war in Afghanistan?

Are you going to jump in a tank or a plane and personally lead the attack, Lindsey? No, you’re going to expect innocent young men and women to die for your irrational and reckless behavior. No surprise; I didn’t notice the Republican leadership or their children jumping at the chance to go overseas and fight and die for their country.

Every day there is no war is another day we can work for peace, and not the peace of the grave. It’s called diplomacy, Lindsey. It’s worked in the past. It can work again.

Give peace a chance.

22 responses so far

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