Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Progressive Republicans: Time for Red Dogs?

I read an interesting entry over at The Progressive Republican.

In the article, it talks about how the Blue Dog Democrats are the only real opposition to Obama's big plans, like health care, cap & trade, stimulus(es), federal budgets, etc.

What I like about Republicans as they prepare for 2010 is their ability to offer new ideas, to put alternatives on the table, to meet philosophical challenges head on with … oops, its the Blue Dog Democrats doing that. Where are the Republicans?

Its a great point. Where are the Republicans? Since Obama's inaugeration in January, the Republicans have not offered any real alternatives to Obama's plans; they have merely been blind opposition [read, whiners]. The Blue Dogs have been the only ones offering real solutions, alternatives (with real numbers, too!). What is going on?

The GOP is falling sharply in popularity these days (the latest studies indicate another 2 points dropped). Strange, since some studies also indicate the country is mostly conservative (thanks, Bluepitbull!)...

So just what is going on?

The GOP is killing itself by making everyone adhere to the party orthodoxy. Latest example: the eight GOPers who voted for cap & trade at the behest of their constituents are being asked to leave the party by other GOPers.

This happened to the Democrats, too. How did they survive? By getting more liberal and kicking out all who wouldn't toe the party core? No.

The Blue Dog Democrats, and the New Democrats, rose in to balance the party out. And now they run this country.

I blogged about this before, here, here, here, and here.

So this is what we need: Red Dog Republicans. Where the far-left Democrats were choking the fiscal conservative Democrats, the far-right is choking the social progressives within the Republican party. You want proof? The more the GOP swings to the right, going back to "Reagan", the more the party shrinks. The Conservative Bloggers keep talking about the party becoming more conservative, yet every time that has happened recently the party has grown smaller and loses more points. Could they be wrong? Could swinging to the right actually be the reason the GOP is shrinking?

Red Dogs:
  • Social Progressives (not necessarily liberal). Example: I'm pro-life, yet also pro-gay marriage.
  • Fiscal Conservative (not Reaganomics [voodoo economics], but truly fiscally conservative). Example: I'm not a fan of Obama's spending, but neither am I a fan of supply-side. I don't believe in trickle down; but neither do I believe in hand-outs.

Any others to add to the list? Anyone else want to be a Red Dog?

Minnesota update: Court declares Franken the winner.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has declared Al Franken the winner of the contested Minnesota senate race against Norm Coleman. Coleman's challenge was dismissed in an unanimous vote, stating that Franken "received the highest number of votes legally cast" and is entitled "to receive the certificate of election as United States senator from the state of Minnesota."

Its about time! Franken was selected by the Minnesota citizens eight months ago...and they have been denied a senate seat since during Coleman's court challenges.

Coleman could still take it to the Federal level, but its unlikely that would change anything. In the meantime, Minnesota will finally have their senator, as the govenor promised that he would sign Franken's election certificate if the court ruled that way.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Republican and the Cap and Trade Bill

There were eight Republicans that voted for the controversial cap and trade bill that passed Friday. Those Reps were:

Mary Bono Mack, CA-45
Mike Castle, DE
Mark Steven Kirk, IL-10
Leonard Lance, NJ-7
Frank LoBiondo, NJ-2
John McHugh, NY-23
Dave Reichert, WA-8
Chris Smith, NJ-4

On some conservative blogs, these eight reps are being treated as "traitors" and are being asked to leave the party. Not a good idea, conservatives. You really can't afford another eight Republicans gone, just over one vote. Dee, at Conservatism with Heart, has a better idea. If you are displeased (and in their districts), call them and let them know. She has links, phone numbers, etc.

I read a great article on this whole thing today on The Progressive Republican, which had some really great points on this whole thing. Basically, these eight Representantives represent districts that favored this bill (Chris Smith being the exception). The author of the article asks "...they were simply reacting to the demands of their constituents. Since when did it become unacceptable to do what one’s constituents want a member of Congress to do?"

Good point. These eight Reps are representing a district. They are supposed to do what is asked of them by their constituents, not their political party. Example: Mark Kirk's district, IL-10, was for Obama's plan 61% for, 38% against.

I wish more Representatives would actually vote on issues based on what their constituents want, and less how their political party's leaders (radio gods nonewithstanding) say they should vote.

By contrast, a quick survey of liberal web sites found no demands that the 44 Democrats who voted against the legislation be purged or punished in any way. This is why the Democrats control Congress and why Republicans won’t for a long time to come.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Republicans: Denounce Norm Coleman

Seriously. The Minnesota citizens have waited long enought for representation. Its been now eight months since they voted. And they still don't have their senator.

The party that cried "Sore Looserman!" in 2000 (Gore was being a bit of a tool with all those recounts (and his invention of the internet haha)) needs to take their own advice.

Al Franken leads Coleman by at least 312 votes after all recounts. Yet he is still fighting. This isn't a noble fight, however.

Its a blatant voter rip off. The people spoke. They chose Franken. Deal with it dude. Stop being such an ass, and stop putting your career above the people you swore to serve. They don't want you!

The lower courts of Minnesota have spoken: Franken is the winner. Coleman is the loser. Stop denying the Minnesota Citizens democracy for your stupid partisanship.

Please, Republican Party: If you really stand for what you say you stand for, denounce Coleman and let the people speak.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

North Korea threatens "Nuclear Fire Shower" attack on US

This is an update to my previous post.

North Korea has now directly threatened us.

I'm not sure what the best thing to do is, but I think it has to be along the lines of:

  1. Take out the Kang Nam.
  2. If attacked by North Korea, then do the following:
  3. Blowing up their navy while its all in the same spot.
  4. Missile strikes against all military targets in the small country.
  5. Invasion of special ops to take out all of Kim Jong's family heirs.

There is more, but that's just my ideas. This isn't "Pre-Emptive": This is response to a direct threat. Thoughts?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

N. Korea needs to be put in its place.

North Korea has threatened to "wipe out" the US and its allies today.

A US Destroyer has been following the Kang Nam, a North Korean ship suspected of transporting illicit weapons to Burma, off China's coast, in accordance with U.N. sanctions passed to punish the nation for the nuclear test last month.

The UN sanction requires that ships suspected of carrying illicit cargo to allow inspection at sea. If they won't comply, they will be escorted to the nearest port for inspection.

North Korea has not taken kindly to the resolution and the US's involvement in its enforcement.

"If the U.S. imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will ... wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all," the official Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea has banned ships from the waters off its east coast starting Thursday through July 10 for military exercises, Japan's Coast Guard said.

North Korea is expected to be testing short & medium range missiles during that time, including the one aimed at Hawaii.


I am tired of being threatened by this small country and its smaller man in charge. I'm sure our ally, South Korea, is tired of it as well. We need to do something about this. What exactly, I'm not sure. But something is better than nothing.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iranian Women Heroes of the Revolution

Iranian women are quickly rising to the forefront of the Iranian revolution. In memory of "Neda," a girl that was shot even though she was not taking part in the protests, Iranian girls & women all over the country are "facing off" against the government.

...Another [woman] walks down the street, defiantly showing off her hair and body in a revealing dress. And still another woman says she's not scared of paramilitary forces -- no matter how many times she gets beaten.

...Amid the clashes and chaos, there has been a recurring scene on the streets of Tehran: Women, in their scarves and traditional clothing, at the heart of the struggle. Some are seen collecting rocks for ammunition against security forces, while video showed one woman trying to protect a fallen pro-government militiaman wounded in the government crackdown...

...Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, agreed that Neda was becoming a symbol for all the women who have become involved in the turmoil that has followed the disputed election. "She will become the image of this brutality and the role -- the truly significant role -- that women have played in fighting this regime. I think that women are the unsung heroes of the last few years. They are the ones who began chipping away the absolute authority of the mullahs."...

One woman says of the movement:

"I'm absolutely optimistic, because history has taught me that all the revolutions start like this," she said. "Every revolution has violence and some people die, but nothing stays like this forever."

Obama toughens talk on Iran

As I said in the last post, Obama was right on this one. We shouldn't get involved in the outcome of a democratic election in Iran [again].

Just as was predicted, by myself and others, even Obama's mild rhetoric against the violence there has provoked responses from the Iranian government that those protesting are agents of the US, giving more ammunition.

Today, President Obama brought it up a notch.

"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days," the president said, adding that he strongly condemns "these unjust actions."

In response to Iran's allegations that we are putting our agents in to instigate the protests:

"This tired strategy of using old tensions to scapegoat other countries won't work anymore in Iran. This is not about the United States and the West; this is about the people of Iran and the future that they -- and only they -- will choose."

In response to those that call for a stronger response, or even interference [again] in Iran's election:

"Right after the election I said that we had profound concerns about the nature of the election, but that it was not up to us to determine what the outcome was," he said.

So. Those of you on the right who have been calling for a harsher response: You have it. He has now condemned it. So, are you going to acknowledge this? Or are you going to find something else to complain about. If your response to this is further criticism, ask yourself this first: What would you approve of? Bomb, bomb, bombs away? If that is the case, then you are suffering from two ailments: Obama Derangement Syndrome, and if you are of the "bombs away" mentality, then you are suffering from neo-conservative ideology.


Monday, June 22, 2009

We do not need to get involved in Iran again.

History is supposed to teach us things. Perhaps Obama's silence on Iran's election is him looking at history and realizing that when we involve ourselves in governments and elections that we don't agree with, the long run result is almost always disastrous. One needs only to look at Latin America to see that.

We have this tendency to go into the world and use our military might to shape countries into what we believe they should be. Our CIA was involved in the student massacre in Mexico in 1968 during the worldwide student protests of 1968. This story repeats itself again and again in Latin America, and now we are seeing it repeat in the Middle East.

We put Saddam Hussein in power. Then we took him out. Hmmm.

I read an interesting article today. Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away, which you can read here.

It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away...

"...in the 1980s, the U.S. sided with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war, providing him with military equipment and intelligence that helped make it possible for his army to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians,” Kinzer said. “Given this history, the moral credibility of the U.S. to pose as a promoter of democracy in Iran is close to nil.

Especially ludicrous is the sight of people in Washington calling for intervention on behalf of
democracy in Iran when just last year they were calling for the bombing of Iran. If they had had their way then, many of the brave protesters on the streets of Tehran today—the ones they hold up as heroes of democracy—would be dead now.”

Washington has never recovered from the loss of Iran—something our intelligence services never saw coming. The overthrow of the shah, the humiliation of the embassy hostages, the laborious piecing together of tiny shreds of paper from classified embassy documents to expose America’s venal role in thwarting democratic movements in Iran and the region, allowed the outside world to see the dark heart of the American empire. Washington has demonized Iran ever since, painting it as an irrational and barbaric country filled with primitive, religious zealots. But Iranians, as these street protests illustrate, have proved in recent years far more courageous in the defense of democracy than most Americans.

It's an interesting read, and interesting for any student of history. We have time and time again intervened in foreign governments, only to later come to regret going there in the first place, and on occasion we go back, only this time at the cost of thousands of lives.

I'm not proposing going back to complete isolationism. But we should return to a bit of it and stop trying to use our military to change the world. Let's return the military to what is was supposed to be: the greatest national defense force in the world.

Friday, June 19, 2009

N. Korea to fire missile at Hawaii

Reports today from Japan are saying that North Korea may be test-firing a Taepodong-2 missile towards Hawaii around July 4th to coincide with the US's Independence Day celebration. The missile reportedly only has a range of 4,000 miles. Hawaii is 4,500 miles from the Korean Peninsula.

Missile defense systems are ready around and on Hawaii, including radar systems and ground based anti-missile systems. Hawaii is now ready, and able, to shoot the missile down mid-air.


As I've said before, in a previous post, I think Obama should order the missile shot down as soon as it enters international airspace. This launch is deliberately testing the US's resolve. We need to give the North Koreans something back: that we will NOT allow them to even come close to harming us.

Seriously, we entered Iraq because of the possibility of WMDs. But we won't shoot down a missile test last month? We better shoot this one down. The North Korean government is as unstable as plutonium. Oh wait, they have that too.

On Thursday, the independent International Crisis Group said the North is believed to have between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, phosgene, blood agents and sarin. These weapons can be delivered with ballistic missiles and long-range artillery and are "sufficient to inflict massive civilian casualties on South Korea."

Supreme Court rules against DNA in Alaska


In a case decided 5-4, the Supreme Court decided against an Alaskan man convicted of raping a prostitute in 1996. William Osborne claims that a condom found at the scene of the crime would exonerate him. The State of Alaska said too bad. An appeals court last year said that he had a right to ask for the DNA from it to see if the evidence would lead to proving his innocence. Alaska went to the SCOTUS, and the Supreme Court also said too bad.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a dissenting opinion that the high court is blessing an arbitrary denial of evidence.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Woman fined $1.9 million for illegally downloading music

In 2007 the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) sued Minnesota mom Jammie Thomas-Rackett for illegally downloading 24 songs onto her personal computer. She lost the suit and was fined $220,000 by the jury. However, the Judge ordered a retrial based on a clerical error in the wording of jury instructions.

In the new trial the jury's verdict delivered today fined her $80,000 per song, for a total of $1.9 million.

Mrs. Thomas-Rackett is married with four kids and works on a Native American reservation.


As if the record industry wasn't dying already, they go and do this.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Progressive Republicans

From Building a Progressive GOP:

What is a Progressive Republican?

A Progressive Republican
  • believes in the defense of the nation, but will not betray Constitutional principles out of fear
    believes in justice and the rule of law
  • acknowledges that there is a difference between freedom and unbridled self-interest
    believes that with rights come responsibilities
  • believes in equality of opportunity, but not in the undue interference of the state in private lives
  • believes that all public servants, elected, appointed and hired, are ultimately accountable to the people
  • believes that free enterprise is the driving force of America's wealth, strength and vitality, but also that the involvement of the Federal government may be desirable and necessary in certain areas
  • believes in traditional family values while acknowledging liberty and justice for all
    believes in rule by the majority and also in the rights of minorities
  • believes that education is a matter for individual states apart from ensuring that individual rights are protected and funding fairly administered
  • recognises the difference between a handout and supporting the less able and helping them to prosper.


Here are many things that comprise what many are calling "Progressive Republicans." I'm sure there are more, but these are things I found on another blog and are things I believe I can agree with.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Barack Dubya Obama: Part II

Thanks to the Impolitic for first posting about this:

Obama Blocks Access to White House visitor log:

So much for "more transparency"!

So much for "[the white house] is the people's house," not the President's.


As BluePitBull is fond of saying, if the voters don't want something that the politician does, "too bad."

Voters overwhemingly voted Obama in office based on his promises of "more transparency" and "change we can believe in"...so far, we're getting more of the same. I posted on another broken promise back in April. You can read it here.

Here we go:

Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.

From the Impolitic again:

This isn't change we can believe in. Hell, it's not even a change and all these little incidents are adding up. I'm beginning to wonder if Obama wants to be a one term president after all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

How the GOP can win again.

In my last post I gave a summary of why the Republican Party needs its centrists, progressives, and moderates (like me!) in order to survive.

I've also heavily criticized the party in previous posts, leading some (BluePitBull) to question my place within the party. Many criticisms and not a lot of suggestions. So, here is my list, incomplete as it may be, of what I believe the GOP needs to do, change, and become in order to become the party that wins again.

Based on a few sources which I'll name and link here (if possible) as well as heavy opinion, I'll lay out my case.

First of all, Mike Murphy, consultant to many heavy hitters in the GOP, is predicting an "Ice Age" for the Republicans if they don't change things. Why? Because the demographics that kept them in power 20 years ago through the Bush years have changed:

...For years, Republicans won elections because the country was chock-full of white middle-class voters who mostly pulled the GOP lever on Election Day. Today, however, that formula is no longer enough.
...It was a huge shock to the GOP when Barack Obama won Republican Indiana last year. The bigger news was how he did it. Latino voters delivered the state. Exit polls showed that they provided Obama with a margin of more than 58,000 votes in a state he carried by a slim 26,000 votes. That's right, GOP, you've entered a brave new world ruled by Latino Hoosiers, and you're losing.
...In 1980, Latino voters cast about 2% of all votes. Last year it was 9%, and Obama won that Hispanic vote with a crushing 35-point margin. By 2030, the Latino share of the vote is likely to double...Young voters are another huge GOP problem. Obama won voters under 30 by a record 33 points. And the young voters of today, while certainly capable of changing their minds, do become all voters tomorrow...
Rather than face up to all this, too many in the GOP are stuck in a swoon of nostalgia. Most of our party leaders come from bloodred GOP states or safe districts, so they are far more at home in the tribal politics of Republican primaries than in those of the country as a whole. You could say their radio dials are stuck on AM. The result is we hear a lot about going back to "the winning ways of Ronald Reagan." Well, I love Reagan too. But demographics no longer do. In 1980, Reagan beat Jimmy Carter by 10 points. If that contest were held again today, under the current demographics of the electorate per exit polls, the election would be much closer, with Reagan probably winning by about 3 points...

So here is my list, as well as reasons why.

First, I'll start with how to keep the base, and add to it. 
  1. Become fiscally conservative again. The party has lost all credibility with many in the US. The Republican Congress kicked major butt during the Clinton era, balancing the budget. But under Bush, they doubled the US Public Debt, which was projected to have been paid off by now. So while I agree with them crying foul at the Obama stimulus(es) and bail outs, the majority of the country thinks of the word hypocrisy. Become hard line fiscally conservative. Stop talking about "tax cuts." Just keep tax increases off the table. Drop spending, but keep tax rates where they are. Also included in this is scaling back military spending. Not effectiveness, but much of the military spending is redundant & outdated, and not enough is going where it needs to: the men and women serving abroad.
  2. To keep the conservative Christian  crowd, keep the pro-life mantra going. Many evangelicals are one issue voters, especially those over 25. Keep the pro-life issue in the party and you've got them. You'll keep Catholics, too. In this, stay hard line socially conservative.
  3. To gain the youth, become gay friendly. Most of us have gay friends and family. Most of us are for gay marriage, equality, and the like. We don't see things like the boomers do. Gay marriage is okay. We view the GOP's resistance to this the same as we see the women's suffrage movement, the racial rights movement, and the abolition movement: Old White Guys holding back the minority. If you became gay friendly, but kept being pro-life, you'd still be the socially conservative choice as compared to the Dems.
  4. To gain the Latino population, become immigrant-friendly. Latinos voted for Obama, plain and simple. Why? Not only was he a Democrat, which historically are better for the immigrant, he spoke to them, not at them. The GOP needs to do the same. Get Latino Republicans to the forefront. I know they exist. Have them put Spanish-speaking ads everywhere. Change the way you look at immigration. Don't do amnesty, but have a graduated plan along the lines of fixing the system now, since it is mind-boggling how difficult and mean it can be to those legally here. Those that are here illegally, make them pay a fine and get in line now. If they don't, and you find them, kick 'em out. If they commit a felony and are convicted before gaining citizenship, kick 'em out. Give them five years to become proficient (not fluent, but proficient) in english before gaining their citizenship. You need to be able to go to the store, pay bills, order pizza, and go to the bank in english.
That's all I have for now. I'll have more later if this post goes well. If anyone wants to add to my list, go right ahead. If anyone would like to (intelligently) debate/discuss those things I did write, you're welcome to. Those that come here to hit and run, calling me "closet" lib, or other such nonsense, will be deleted.

In closing, from Murphy's article linked above:

Saving the GOP is not about diluting conservatism but about modernizing it to reflect the country it inhabits instead of an America that no longer exists.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Case for Moderates in the Republican Party

There is a growing feeling among conservatives in the GOP that moderates should "get out." People like Rush Limbaugh and [neoconservative] Dick Cheney seem to be leading the charge.

I've been told the same on many occasions, especially here on this blog.

On many occasions I have stated that the GOP needs its moderates. People like me. People like John McCain. And people like Colin Powell.

A few posts back I talked about what Colin Powell should do if he truly believes the same; he should help found a Republican counterpart to the Democrats' DLC.

Here's another parallel we need: The Democrats have the Blue Dog Coalition: Fiscally conservative Democrats who strive for bipartisanship and balance out the far-left.

Such a group is sorely needed within the incredible shrinking GOP.

Reagan, who pushed for a "big tent party," had many traditionally Democrat voters in awe of him, as well as many Democrats in the Government (including the Blue Dogs, who supported his tax cuts):
From wikipedia:

The term Reagan Democrat also refers to the vast sway that Reagan held over the House of Representatives during his presidency, even though the house had a Democratic majority during both of his terms.

The GOP needs its moderates just as the Democrats need theirs.

From ProgressiveRepublican.com:

Many in the party, hard-line conservatives for the most part, are calling for a return to the roots of the Republican Party. Fair enough. I think that is precisely what we should do. And to do this, the facts that can be bothersome to some must be brought to the forefront of this internal debate. The roots of the party, of course, must be from the very beginning of its conception.

The Republican Party was formed in the late 1850’s in response to the democrats who supported the expansion of slavery into the new territories, which the new party was vehemently opposed to. The party was from the beginning, a progressive party and by no means a conservative one. It was a party that sought to modernize the country, not to keep the status quo especially if the status quo was not working for Americans. They sought to modernize the country by supporting higher education, free homesteads to farmers (a rather non-conservative thing to do), free soil policies against slavery, banking, railroads, industry and cities. This was a party that not only was aiming for the rural vote via homesteads, but also one that had a heavy lean towards urban America. Again something that is not apparent with today’s conservative controlled Republican Party. It was a party that believed industry and free markets were superior to slave driven ones. These were the founding principles of the party and it is these principles that should define real republicanism instead of what has crept into the party over the last few decades. Taking into account these founding ideas must also include Abraham Lincoln himself who was a man of principle as well as pragmatism in being the first iconic leader of the Republican Party. Lincoln from his early years warned against the slave holding southerners continuing power growth of the government...

...With Lincoln and his “pragmatic idealism” being at the beginning of the Republican Party’s creation, we can now look at how the party can return to its actual roots that we have slowly abandoned over the years and that we centrists as the “true” republicans must realize and stand up for. The party was a party that stood against slavery because it easily recognized the obvious evil of human enslavement, but also easily recognized the potential of industry to transform the nation towards progress and to end the inefficient slave driven agriculture of the south. This would have the potential therefore, to not only do a great good for a people suffering injustice but also to possibly lead America down a path of modernization and prosperity never before seen before. This would be a prosperity that would be aimed towards all Americans and not merely a small segment of the population. With Lincoln at the beginning and at the helm for those important years, he along with the other beginning Republicans set the stage for the party to drive this thrust for progress, prosperity and justice and the flexibility needed to accomplish this for many years to come.

In other words, Republicans used to be progressive, which is different from liberal. The Republicans came into power by being progressive. By shifting right and becoming hard-line conservative, the GOP will wither and possibly die, much like the Democratic Party withered for a time before the centrist "New Democrats" came onto the scene.

The Republican Party needs its moderates and centrists in order to survive.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


The GOP is making this too easy for Obama.

I mean c'mon, seriously? More talking points? All you are doing is alienating more people than you already did. Bring back the big tent. Bring some REAL alternatives. Not just vague criticisms and blind opposition.

Now before you conservatives get all on me and tell me to get out of the party, back off for a minute.

Here's what I'm talking about:
On Sunday, a senior Senate Republican made his case against the Democrats’ plan for a “public option” for health insurance.
He explained that the public option would "be the first steps in... destroying the best health care system the world has ever known."

There are very good arguments against the health care proposals being advanced by the Democrats.

This is not one of them. And with only weeks before the full Senate considers a comprehensive health care reform package, such talking points will only undermine the Republicans’ efforts to challenge and improve upon the Democrats’ efforts.

...the Democrats’ modest sounding public option would in fact deal a fatal blow to the private health insurance most Americans enjoy.

Disincentivize employer-provided group insurance through an employer-mandate and the taxation of benefits.

Establish politically motivated benefit packages with coverage mandates, that along with guaranteed issue and community rating, will drive up the cost of insurance.

And create an individual mandate with generous government subsidies.

It is clear where this will wind up. With nowhere else to turn and no serious proposals for “bending the growth curve,” American taxpayers will be on the hook for another growing entitlement that will be paid for either by tax increases or government rationing of care.

Not a pretty picture.

Merely spewing talking points and opposition reminds me too much of late march and early April. Remember the Federal Budget Proposals? The Democrats had a bad proposal. The Republicans? No proposal. Well, a proposal that was more of a non-proposal, with no numbers. Then they put out another non-proposal with made up numbers and a writing style akin to a high schooler turning in a report they wrote the night before. No real research. So what happened when the alternative wasn't an alternative? More Republicans voted against it than than Democrats voted against theirs. You know there's a problem when you can't get your own to vote for you.

Healthcare is too important for the GOP to repeat its own history. Give us a REAL alternative. Don't wait til the last minute this time, guys. Get it together.

Clay continues:

While certainly decent compared to the alternatives, objectively speaking our health care system is a mess. The government subsidizes the care of the elderly by stiffing doctors, who then pass along those costs to the privately insured. In a post-industrial national economy, individual insurance decisions are subject to the regulations of 50 state insurance commissioners, undermining portability. The government provides massive and regressive subsidies to employer-provided coverage, while providing practically meaningless tax breaks to those who seek care in the individual marketplace.

In other words, the system is pretty lousy and needs work. Conservatives helped to make this case, first in the think tanks, then in President Bush’s proposal for health care reform, and finally during Senator McCain’s campaign.

It may be that the vast majority of Americans with private health insurance are satisfied with their coverage. But they certainly worry, particularly in this economy, about a health insurance system that largely ties your opportunity for coverage to your employment. And they understand that their share of coverage is consuming an ever larger portion of their income.

In other words, they might be satisfied with the system, but they aren’t ecstatic about it.

And if Republicans’ opening shot is that the Democrats’ plan will undermine the greatest health care system on earth, Rahm Emanuel is somewhere smiling.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Finally, the President actually does something fiscally that makes sense.

PAYGO, a simple stragety for bringing down the deficits in the budget, is being pushed by President Obama.

"The 'pay as you go' rule is very simple. Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere," Obama said, as he announced that he was submitting to Congress a proposal to make PAYGO law.

This is part of the same system used in the 1990s to bring down the Federal Deficit, under President Clinton and the Republican Congress.

Obama repeated his vow to halve the deficit by the end of his first term, and he said PAYGO is an important step toward making that happen.

"Paying for what you spend is basic common sense. Perhaps that's why, here in Washington, it has been so elusive," the president said Tuesday.

It would be nice if the Feds could do what the average citizen's household must do: Not spend more than we make, and pay back what is borrowed.

But Republicans were quick to question the administration's sincerity.

Republican Whip Eric Cantor charged that the administration's focus on PAYGO "seems more driven by polling and PR strategy than a serious commitment to fiscal discipline."
"It seems a tad disingenuous for the President and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi to talk about PAYGO rules after ramming trillions in spending through Congress proposing policies that create more debt in the first six months of this year than in the previous 220 years combined," Cantor, R-Virginia, said in a statement Tuesday.

Republicans point to the $787 billion stimulus package as evidence that Obama is not following
his own advice.

Cantor and the Republicans have a great point here.

However, a group of fiscally conservative Democratic representatives known as the Blue Dogs say Obama's proposal is responsible and necessary.
"President Obama inherited an economy in free fall and a $10.6 trillion national debt," said Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, vice chairman of the Blue Dog Budget and Financial Services Task Force. "While short-term spending was necessary to get the economy moving again, our long-term fiscal problems became that much more urgent."

I know this seems very partisan. The Republicans against it no matter what Obama proposes, and the Dems supporting it. But I think it goes further than that. The Republicans, while it is true that they come off as whiny, have a great point. Obama, so far, has done the opposite of what he is proposing.

And the flip side, the Blue Dog Democrats, are supporting it. But I think it goes beyond blind support: they believe PAYGO is a good step, but even they doubt the President's promise to halve the deficit:

But when it comes to reducing the deficit, even the Senate Budget Committee's Democratic chairman doubts the president can deliver on his promise.
Asked if Obama could halve the deficit -- given the recent government spending --- Sen. Kent Conrad said, "I don't believe so. I don't believe anybody could."

So, to summarize, the President is finally doing something fiscally responsible. PAYGO is a great and much needed step. But it isn't enough. Let's see some more of THAT, please.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pakistani band together to oust Taliban

From CNN: 

Hundreds of Pakistani villagers who have formed an anti-Taliban militia battled for the fourth day Tuesday to remove the Islamic militants from a region of northwest Pakistan.

The Pakistani military is supporting the militia, or "lashkar," in Upper Dir district on the request of local officials and tribal elders, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN.

Outraged over a suicide attack on a local mosque during Friday prayers, about 400 residents formed the militia early Saturday and began battling Taliban militants. The attack on the anti-Taliban mosque killed at least 40 people and wounded 80 others.

The militia has surrounded Taliban fighters in Shat Kas, a village where the Taliban have local support, according to officials in the Upper Dir district. The Taliban have dug into bunkers and are putting up a strong resistance, he said.

The fighting marks the first major battle between the residents of northwest Pakistan and Taliban militants.

At least 14 Taliban had been killed and four villagers had been wounded as of Sunday evening, according to local administrator Atif-ur-Rehman.


I'd say this is interesting, and I for one am glad to see locals, not just the military, supporting the war on terror. The Taliban can't be defeated in Afghanistan alone, and without the support of the locals we won't go far.

Also, Susannah, here is another example of Muslims against extremism. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama's Speech in Cairo

Those of you who are regular readers of my posts and comments know I am not a total fan of everything Obama says or does.

But in this speech I though he was pretty much right on. I read the entire transcript, and you can too here, and was quite impressed. I didn't agree with all of it, but most of it was pretty good. Here are some highlights:


We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world—tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate...

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight...There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground...That is what I will try to do today—to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.

Now part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I’m a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims. As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and at the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam—at places like Al-Azhar—that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities...that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed....

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President, John Adams, wrote, “The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims.” And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson—kept in his personal library...

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words—within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum—“Out of many, one.”

...Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one’s religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders...So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of America. And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations—to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

In Ankara, I made clear that America is not—and never will be—at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security—because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women, and children. And it is my first duty as President to protect the American people.

The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al-Qaida and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I’m aware that there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: Al-Qaida killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al-Qaida chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed—more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction—or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews—is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people—Muslims and Christians—have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations—large and small—that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It’s easy to point fingers—for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. (Applause.) The obligations—the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them—and all of us—to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.

Obama says the difficult things here. He says that we are not at war with Islam, and that Islam must not be at war with us. We must all confront terrorism.

He calls both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict to stop mindlessly killing each other, and that Israel is our ally.

President Obama just gave the best foreign speech since the Cold War.

I just hope he follows through with his promises.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The way Powell could prove his statements.

I know I've posted in the past, being quite unfriendly towards Dick Cheney.

All ugliness aside, I just plain disagree with him on where the Republican Party needs to go.

I have noticed that there is a war of sorts raging within the GOP. Cheney and Limbaugh are on one side, and Powell and McCain are on the other.

First of all, I believe all four individuals above do want to see the GOP remain Grand.

Second, all personal opinion aside, if Powell wants to actually succeed in helping the Republican Party become more "big tent" and moderate, he needs to take a page from the Democratic Party's handbook. No, I'm not talking about becoming more liberal. I'm talking about the DLC: The Democratic Leadership Committee, an independent entity responsible for the "New Democrats," namely the Clintons. Bill Clinton came from the DLC's leadership, which worked to counteract the negative image associated with Jesse Jackson Sr's Presidential run in '84 and '88. They feared the extreme left continuing their takeover of the Democratic Party.

What Powell needs, and I personally believe we need in the GOP, is our own DLC to balance the far-right. If Powell really believes that the Republican Party needs to start bringing in the moderates and social liberals (but fiscal conservatives), he needs to be part of the leadership of said committee. In other words, he needs to back up his words with actions.

CNN's Roland S. Martin has the same idea. From his article at CNN.com:
If such an organization was created, and all of a sudden you had chapters forming in states across the country, you would have the infrastructure to identify candidates to run in local and state races, and challenge the people Powell and others think are driving the party further into isolation as a largely southern and regional party.
It's clear the GOP has enormous problems in the Northeast part of the country, and with Obama winning a sizeable portion of the Hispanic vote, and the party's staunch opposition to illegal immigration, it is going to have a hell of a time in the Southwest and West. And with a fractured party, there is no better time to create an alternative that people can believe in and rally behind.

On CNN last week, senior analyst Gloria Borger said there clearly is a civil war raging within the GOP, and Powell and Cheney are on opposite sides. I chimed in that in any war, I'd trust the guy who put on a military uniform -- Powell -- rather than the guy who ran from serving our country -- Cheney.

In other words, the only way for Powell to prove his point that the party would be stronger if it reached out to moderates more would be to create this kind of organization. If his hypothesis is correct, then the party would grow exponentially, with strong moderate candidates to run for office. If he's wrong, then the worst would be that the party would continue to shift to the right, a path it is already taking.

Powell cannot lose unless he does nothing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Suspect in Military shooting pleads not guilty...

Thanks to Bluepitbull for first blogging about this...update from CNN:

For those that don't know, Abdulhakim Bledsoe shot up a military recruitment center yesterday, killing one soldier and wounding another.

Bledsoe faces 1 count of first degree murder and 16 counts of engaging in a terrorist act.

He is going to plead "not guilty." Not sure how he sees this one going...

Before the not guilty plea, authorities said Bledsoe waived his Miranda rights Monday and gave a video statement indicating that there were "political and religious" motives in the shooting.

He "stated that he was a practicing Muslim, that he was mad at the U.S. military because of what it had done to Muslims in the past," homicide detective Tommy Hudson said in a police report.

Police recovered three guns from the vehicle: an SKS semi-automatic rifle, a .22-caliber rifle and a .380-caliber automatic pistol, Thomas said. No explosives were found.

The victims were shot with an SKS rifle, according to the police report.

I have to agree with Bluepitbull on this: The recruiters should be armed. Maybe they could have defended themselves, especially if this starts occuring on a regular basis.