Category Archives: Obama Presidency

Bipartisanship

OK, I know I’m outta here, but I just have to comment on something and then close with an open letter printed on Huffington Post from a lifelong Republican.

Today, the House passed so-called “Stimulus Bill” without a single Republican vote. This, despite the fact that the Democrats have courted input from all Republicans and have made concession after concession in an attempt to garner GOP supporters. Those efforts failed, and failed miserably.

The final $787 billion measure has been pared back from versions previously debated in order to attract support from three Senate GOP moderates _ Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Their help is essential to meeting a 60-vote threshold in the Senate, required to overcome a Republican objection that the bill adds to the deficit.

Today, a Facebook friend posted a letter from lightweight pundit Monica Crowley, stating that the Democrats’ bipartisanship efforts were shallow and that the GOP should just continue blocking everything that it can.

We should have known, fellow liberals. We should have known that at no time would the GOP ever consider having an honest debate about the issues. Bob Cesca lays out the whole scenario very well in this article. Rush Limbaugh is the de-facto head of the GOP right now. He is their most public voice, and all other GOP voices are currently echoing his daily talking points. How else do you explain the new head of the GOP, Michael Steele, going on television and claiming that the US Government has never created a single job? Sounds right up Limbaugh’s alley. I guess Steele has never mailed a letter.

And even though FOX News seemed like it was going to try to be a more “fair and balanced” network in the days after the election, it got caught by Media Matters passing off GOP talking points as legitimate news (an on-screen graphic reproduced a typo from the GOP press release).

You know, it’s really fine with me if the GOP adopts Limbaugh as its leader. It will just scare away any moderates in the party and the GOP will become an even smaller cult than it already is. But the Democrats should not be fooled again into thinking they can ever work with Republicans while the GOP is getting its talking points from right-wing radio. It’s just not going to happen, and the recent stimulus vote just reinforces that notion.

You might recall that Bill Clinton’s infamous deficit-addressing budget also received zero GOP votes back in 1993. On that spring night, GOP Senator Phil Gramm stood on the Senate floor and said, “I want to predict here tonight that if we adopt this bill the American economy is going to get weaker and not stronger, the deficit four years from today will be higher than it is today and not lower … When all is said and done, people will pay more taxes, the economy will create fewer jobs, the government will spend more money, and the American people will be worse off.”

We all know what happened — the surpluses that led to Bush’s 2001 tax cuts that sent us right back into a recession. If one thing has become clear over the last eight years, it’s that the GOP way of running the economy ruins the economy. We’ve tried the tax cut fix again and again. It just does not work.

So if this stimulus bill passes and puts America back on track again, I hope the American public remembers that it passed only because three GOP Senators — Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter — had the guts to stand against the GOP wall-of-obstruction and do what was best for the country.

Bipartisanship is dead. And perhaps it was never really alive, despite the Democrats’ attempts to revive it. NH Republican Senator Judd Gregg, after withdrawing his nomination for Commerce Secretary — a cabinet post in the Obama administration — noted that the GOP had no intent of ever going along with the stimulus bill, despite Democrats’ attempts at appeasing them by cutting it back significantly and including more tax cuts. But not only is the GOP not cooperating, it is sending out its minions to spread false news about the bill.

White House Chief-Of-Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, stated that the White House had lost control of the message on the Stimulus bill by overreaching toward bipartisanship. According to Emmanuel, White House officials “allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package.”

Given those statements, it is pretty clear that the White House will not make the same mistake again. It seems the lesson learned is that attempts at bipartisanship are done, even though the White House claims it will continue to court Republicans. The GOP totally and completely failed to cooperate in any meaningful manner toward getting something done together, and that’s the last time the White House will let the bipartisan message dominate any single issue.

In today’s Huffington Post, lifelong Republican and NY Times bestselling author Frank Schaeffer, writes an open letter to President Obama and explains why Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship are doomed to fail. I’ve reprinted it here below, because I think it’s extremely important. Here is the original link to the article.

America should remember this day, take the words below to heart, and remember which party is doing everything it can to stand in the way of America’s recovery. Good day.

Dear President Obama: I know that from time to time you read Huffington Post because you’ve written for it. As a Huffington Post reader you’ll know that no one on this web site has more faithfully supported your candidacy and now your presidency than me. As a former lifelong Republican, son of a co-founder of the Religious Right; my late evangelical leader father, Francis Schaeffer, I’m in a unique position to tell you a few things about the Republicans from inside perspective. (As you know I left that movement in the mid 1980s.)

The lack of cooperation you’re getting from the Republican Party will continue. You were right to indulge in a little bit of tokenism when you had to Pastor Rick Warren pray at your inauguration. But if you think that the Republicans in Congress and the Senate are going to do more than their utmost to obstruct everything you are and what you stand for you’re dreaming.

As someone who appeared numerous times on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, as someone for whom Jerry Falwell used to send his private jet to bring me to speak at his college, as an author who had James Dobson giveaway 150,000 copies of my one of my fundamentalist “books” allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican “center” for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes.

The Religious Right supply the kind of people who at McCain and Palin rallies were yelling things such as “kill him” about you. That’s the constituency to which your hand was extended when looking for compromise on your financial bailout bill.

There’s only one thing that makes sense for you now. Mr. President, you need to forget a bipartisan approach and get on with the business of governing by winning each battle. You will never be able to work with the Republicans because they hate you. Believe me, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are the norm not the exception. James Dobson and the rest are praying for you to fail. The neoconservatives are gnashing their teeth and waiting for you to “sell out Israel” or “show weakness” in Afghanistan, whatever, so they can declare you a traitor.

The problem is that when you deal with the Republican Party you’re talking to the polished characters in Washington. I wish you could see the hate e-mail’s that I have received over the last two years because I supported you, letters calling for God to kill me, telling me that I hate God because I supported you and that I am “an abortionist” and worse a “fag lover” because I’ve written that I believe that you will be a great president.

What those senators and congressmen are telling you is not what their rabid core constituents are telling them. Their loyalty is to a fundamentalist Christian ideology on the one hand and American exceptionalism of perpetual warfare and hatred and fear of the “other” on the other hand. Between the neoconservatives and evangelical Religious Right Republicans you have no friends.

The good news is that most Americans support you. And if you will just get in the face of the Republican Party and call their bluff you’ll be surprised how many individual ordinary Republicans will support you, not to mention the rest of us. America is sick of the Republicans.

The Democratic Party won for a reason: the Republicans failed and have taken us all down with them! You’re doing your presidency and America no favor by extending an open hand to the perpetually knotted fist of what has become the embittered lunatic fringe of our country. They would rather go down in flames than “compromise” their ideology.

As you showed us again at your press conference of Feb 9, you are a brilliant, articulate and decent man. Your Republican opponents are not decent people but ideologues bent on destroying you. To quote the biblical adage sir, don’t cast your pearls before swine.

— Frank Schaeffer

Time to Put Away Childish Things

Well, it hasn’t exactly been a “childish thing,” but you might have originally come to this site by going to HannitySucks.com or HannitySucksAss.com (which still redirect here). Childish? Perhaps. But no longer.

I started this blog about a year before John Kerry lost the 2004 election. As you probably recall, he got swiftboated by the media during the campaign, much like Al Gore did four years earlier, and never recovered (and again, if the media was liberal why would it have repeated every little lie told against these Democratic candidates)? Every day I heard the right-wing discrediting Kerry and spreading lies about him, and every day I’d hear those lies echoed by the mass media. I figured if the media wasn’t going to dispel the lies, I’d do my part by creating my own blog and trying to do it myself. Friends of mine had always asked me where I got my information and right-wingers I knew always questioned my sources, so I figured I’d lay it all out on the web and they could read it if they wanted to. My goal was to keep at least one other person from voting Republican in 2004.

I don’t know if it worked, but after the 2004 election, I decided to be a little less confrontational and wanted to make this site a place where even conservatives could come and hopefully not hear “liberal talking points” that might turn them off, but would instead find reasoned arguments backed up by facts and sources — preferably conservatives sources when possible (to help make the argument). That’s when “Hannity Sucks” became “Blue State Journal,” and later “Blue State Update.” The old posts were deleted, and I started a completely new site with a new mission — be a small part of the wave of blogs that were doing the job that the mass media wouldn’t. Find the real truth on the back pages of the papers or the buried corners of the internets, and do my part to bring these stories to light and help spread the word.

During this time, larger communities and blogs like Daily Kos, Salon.com and Huffington Post gathered tremendous numbers of readers and enormous clout, and started taking the media to task for its previous failures. I thought many times of closing down my blog, but there was always something to write about, and people kept coming here.

But obviously there was a perfect storm brewing which resulted in the most liberal Senator on the Hill — an African-American with the middle name of Hussein — being elected President of the United States of America.

Barack Obama has extended olive branches in all directions and has made it clear that the traditional way of carrying out business in the Capital has ended. From attending a dinner with the likes of David Brooks, William Kristol and George Will, to appointing moderates to his cabinet. If John McCain had won the election, does anyone think he would have come to a private dinner hosted by liberal strategists and journalists? If the Republicans regain power in 2012, will they reciprocate?

But I’m not going to worry about that right now.

Right now, it’s 2009 and we have a Democratic president and Democratic congress. We have a president who has clearly shown he will be informed by all sides before making a decision rather than only insulated ideological views. We have an intellectually curious president who isn’t afraid to use diplomacy as a first step. We have a president who believes that the free market cannot succeed in the long run without oversight and that corporations will have to start being good neighbors. We have a president and congress that believes that global climate change is real, and needs immediate attention. We have a president and congress that believes that waterboarding is torture, that torture is immoral, and that foreign governments will not be permitted to torture on our behalf.

Within a few short days, the Obama administration has already made clear the United States will

  • Close Guantanamo Bay within one year
  • Progress toward turning Iraq over to its own people
  • Immediately resume involvement in Palestinian/Israeli matters
  • Disallow former administration officials from ever lobbying the administration
  • Reverse any specific or general Bush administration edicts or executive orders that allow torture of any kind and mandate the CIA adhere to military interrogation guidelines
  • End the CIA practice of maintaining overseas prisons for “unlawful combatant” detainees
  • Rescind the global “gag rule” on abortion

Just that list alone comprises at least 60% of what I found wrong with the Bush administration. How can I not be encouraged by the direction the country is turning?

It also helps that the more Obama seems willing to listen to conservatives, the more the right-wing talking heads have to keep moving further and further right in order to attempt to discredit him. Rush Limbaugh recently even said he hopes Obama fails. Limbaugh also carried Obama’s inauguration speech live, but couldn’t resist commenting negatively on it as Obama spoke. Does anyone know any left-wing radio or television talk show host that did that during Bush’s last two inauguration speeches?

These people — Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Ingraham, Levin — are all starting to be seen by the American people for what they truly are — hatemongers. There will always be a group of Americans who believes that these right-wing cartoons are honest, upstanding Americans, but the more moderate members of society have stopped listening to them. What they see in real life doesn’t match up with what these talking heads are saying. Finally (and unfortunately) people are hurting bad enough that they are waking up. The policies of Ronald Reagan have failed the middle class. It has been a hard lesson learned, and I don’t think we’ll be looking back there, at least not in my lifetime and hopefully not in my son’s either.

The Reagan era ended on November 4th, 2008 — and not a moment too soon.

The Hannitys and Limbaughs will never be able to let it go, but America will. And my hope is that now, with an administration that doesn’t fear educating our citizens, we will find a way to teach our children the importance of American history so that we will not repeat these mistakes forty years from now.

Starting in 2009 we are moving toward transparent government, free-market oversight, rekindling our relationships with foreign countries, greater opportunities for the poor and middle class, and the marginalization of the right-wing blowhards. That’s leaving me feeling pretty good about things in America right now, despite the current economic crisis.

So with a full time job and a 17-month-old taking up most of my waking hours these days, I’m saying goodbye to this blog for now and will be using whatever precious free time I have to write creatively and learn the drums (something I always wanted to do). And who knows, perhaps I’ll even find time to finally get back into shape. OK, it’s not a life of public service, but perhaps someday…

And if in four years Sarah Palin becomes president, I’m sure I’ll be back.

Thanks for reading!

America is NOT “Center-Right”

There has been a lot written in the past few days about how America is still a “center-right” country. This is basically the right-wing talking heads plugging their ears and saying na-na-na-na-na-na so they don’t have to listen to what’s going on in this country today — namely, the facade of conservatism crumbling to the ground.

The War Room at Salon.com had a few links today to some great blog posts and general thoughts about this.

Perhaps the best is Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly, who asks just when would a right-winger finally admit that the country is no longer center-right?

Would a Democratic Congress do it?

How about a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress?

How about a Democratic President, Democratic Congress, and a Democratic majority among the nation’s governors?

How about a Democratic president, Senate, House, governors, and polling data showing Americans support universal healthcare, are pro-choice, oppose the war in Iraq, and support the Democratic agenda on everything from the environment to the minimum wage to international diplomacy?

Most of us on the left have long known that America is really center-left, and the reason people don’t vote that way is simply because the GOP has — for far too long — been able to control the message and terms of discussion. But with the internet taking up much of the cause of the left, including holding the press accountable and actually keeping a running record of the absurd things the right-wing does and says on a regular basis, perhaps America is starting to wake up.

So is America really satisfied that it has now elected the 1st and 3rd most liberal Senators to lead the nation?

This article at CNN references a poll that shows Americans are generally fine with Democrats in total control of government, despite the threats aimed from the airwaves about dangerous liberalism/socialism of the Pelosi/Reid/Obama trifecta.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 59 percent of those questioned think that Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, with 38 percent saying that such one-party control will be bad. View the public’s view of the parties »

“That much good will from the public opens a window of opportunity for the Democrats,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “But the public expects results and may not listen to excuses for very long if a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House can’t get their act together in time.”

The poll also suggests that the public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, with 62 percent having a favorable opinion and 31 percent an unfavorable opinion.

That is not the case for the Republicans, with a majority, 54 percent, having an unfavorable view of the GOP and 38 percent holding a positive view.

Hear that, Hannity? Keep talking smack, and keep saying “no mandate,” because America has spoken, and the only people you’re reaching these days with your lies are those perpetually brainwashed by your GOP talking points.

Standing Tall

Barack Obama might have struck a conciliatory tone on Tuesday night with his speech in Grant Park, but he’s no pushover. His first appointment is Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff (the story of the steak and the steak knife has been repeated ad nauseum for the past couple days on right-wing talk radio). And guess who he wants to be White House Press Secretary? Obama campaign Communications Director, Robert Gibbs. Check out the clip below to see how Gibbs makes Sean Hannity stir in his seat, crying like a whiny baby. This is a guy who won’t be bullied by questions from anyone. I’m sure Gibbs will be a no-nonsense Press Secretary, and god help the first FAUX News “journalist” that asks him, “does President Obama plan to invite Bill Ayers to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom?”

There are a lot of ex-Clinton administration names being floated as well for assorted administration positions. This is probably not a bad idea, even though most of us would like to see more “change” as promised, only because former Clinton officials would know how to hit the ground running on January 20th, something Clinton himself didn’t do. At least some of these appointments might be temporary, if reports are to be believed.