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trenchesRep. John Boehner may just get his Armageddon after all, but the only thing he had right, is that the horseman delivering it is indeed President Barack Obama.  I’m not talking about an extinction-event kind of Armageddon, I’m talking about a bruising round of defeats that are going to leave his Grand Obstructionist Party of the last year pummeled.
 
The worst news for the GOP?  It will come in the form of an army of their own making, an army whose essence is sustained from the negative poles of “No.”  Note here to Sarah Palin, you better get some nail polish remover because you’re about to have to change the notes on your hand, “Hell No!” is going to get you nothing more than one big headache from here on out.  
 
This move on drilling was held close to the vest in Obamaland, because timing is everything, and I think it is slowly coming to light that Barack Obama has the timing of a trapeze artist. He is fresh off of a victory of historic proportions.  He did what everyone said couldn’t be done, and he did it in spite of Scott Brown and the odds, cementing himself as a reformative President no matter what happens from here.
 
What better time to shake some trees, gather some low lying fruit, and move the property line a bit, so that at the end of the day you’ve got more bushels of fruit to take to market than your neighbor does come November.  You know the neighbor I’m talking about, he’s the one that is standing around perplexed, “didn’t those trees used to be on my side of the line?”
 
This stance on drilling should not have come as a surprise to anyone.  All the way back in August 2008, Barack Obama said during the campaign that he would be open to expanding “some” drilling in an effort to pass comprehensive, bipartisan energy reform.  He sold the greater good of it then, and he will again.  But just like clockwork, the second this was announced, letters started flying in from incensed environmentalists and the far left of the democratic base.  How could he?  How dare he?  My, what difference a week can make.
 
The strategy though, is as simple as it is brilliant.  Look at this like an old fight in the trenches during WWI.  You’ve got two sides slugging it out in close quarters, looking to gain mere inches at a time.  That’s where we’ve been since the Health Care Reform battle wound down, dug in deep.  Even before their fruitless efforts to stop Health Care Reform at every turn, the Republicans had already devised their battle plan for the next great war, the war of November 2010.  The standing order is something along the lines of surrender nothing, give no victory to this opposing general that has already tasted more glory than they ever imagined, and stand united, no matter the cost.  Anyone not following these simple orders will be sacrificed by the RNC come campaign time. Then it is simply battle of wills, something the Democrats have flinched on too many times in the past.  They have had trouble when they were relentlessly worn down by an entrenched opposition and have far too often been defeated in the inevitable bayonet fight, a form of combat the GOP have proven much more proficient in, until just recently.  It also happens to be their only real  alternative because their supply of munitions has been running dangerously low for awhile now. 
 
But now, Obama gives a seemingly out-of-the-blue  order to abandon a forward trench, relieving the tension on that line, changing the complexion of the fight, leaving no enemy for them to target.  As presumed, Rep. Boehner takes the bait straight away and instantly let’s loose the same ol’ battle-cry …  No Way!, Not Enough!  Take that land!  No Mercy! 
 
Funny thing about trench warfare though, the trench itself is your only protection if you’re outnumbered.  But as expected, one by one curious heads start popping up over the fire line to take a look, if for no other reason than sheer curiosity.  Their position has been getting shelled forever and the quiet now is eerily unnerving.  
 
Slowly the cheers start. They’ve retreated! They’ve ceded precious ground!  When the news makes it to the Dems at home, they are livid. Why in the world would the general that proved himself so resolute, fearless and successful in the last historic battle cede such precious ground now?. What could he possibly be thinking? And so, the aforementioned letters start pouring in.  They’ve started to doubt the general on the field, giving even more courage to the enemy, fracturing the support at home. 
 
This is where the fight stands today.
 
Well Dems, environmentalists and anyone else that found themselves screaming at their computer or TV upon hearing the drilling news from Obama himself, let me to try talk you in from the ledge.  The troops that disappeared from that forward trench didn’t simply vanish, they have quietly been repositioned on both flanks.  They are hiding there in the fog of war, barely detectable, waiting to see the whites of the enemy’s eyes. And because of your vocal unease and fever pitch, the now emboldened opposing force is going to do what comes naturally, they are going to be tempted to crawl out from the cover of their trench and move forward to take that abandoned ground, and they will suffer heavy casualties in the open space between.
 
Hopefully they will be smart enough not to deploy Mustard Gas in the ensuing panic, because you just never know which way the wind will be blowing from one moment to the next and that could spell big trouble for every single one of us.
 
Now, I may not be an all-knowing dinosaur of the political scene like some of the other talking heads out there, but I have followed every single step of Barack Obama since 2004 and this is what I believe to be true.  On his watch, not one single drop of oil will be extracted from anyplace in America that is not producing oil right now, but a comprehensive energy reform bill focused on a sustainable, renewable future will be realized.  I also believe the GOP is going to have some big image problems in the foreseeable future that is going to change the political landscape from complete partisan gridlock into something more conducive to actual governing and progress. 
 
So beware of all the doomsayers and media spin of today, there is a method to the madness, I’m sure of it.  Remember, those same dinosaurs told me Barack Obama had no chance in Iowa, no chance against Hillary Clinton, no chance to weather Reverend Wright, no chance against the republican war machine during the general election, no chance to pass Health Care Reform. 
 
Yet, here I stand, with our defiant President, right on all counts.  So, have a little faith, what you see may not be what you get, it may just turn out to be another masterfully designed distraction in our struggle to move ever forward against all odds.
 
 
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Enterprise damagedThis week, Health Care Reform was, at long last, signed into to law in America.  While this particular episode of tomorrow’s History Channel took over a year to film, the final cut is going to play like a great Star Trek episode.  
 
Fan or not, we all know the characters and we all know the situation will eventually be desperately grim, and the chances of survival will be infinitesimal at best.  This moment comes when a Klingon Bird of Prey suddenly de-cloaks and sends a Scott Brown proton torpedo, along with some well placed laser fire, right into the unshielded hull of a caught-off-guard Enterprise. 
 
Federation President Obama himself happens to be on board and as a Commander-in-Chief that had proven himself worthy of battle in the past, he takes charge from the Captain.  He immediately calls for “shields up” but the damage is already done and it is immense. With the red alert now blaring on all decks, panic breaks out among some of the crew.  But the President remains unfazed, he has his Vulcan half to thank for his temperament, and his logic. The damage report reveals breaches on many decks. 
 
They had started this mission with a skeleton crew and already had barely enough bodies to man the 216 stations it would take to arrive at their planned destination.  The first crew count was sketchy, roughly 200, it was impossible to tell how many were lost for good and how many simply lost their way in the smoke-filled chaos.  Warp drive was lost and there was heavy damage to the weapons stations.  The crew was losing hope, they started to give up.  But with his uncanny ability to feel their pulse , President Obama’s very human core takes over and he opens the comm channel to all decks. He talks with passion, his words bring about a calm amidst the turmoil, he reminds every soul on board of their mission, he reminds them all why they signed up and how each of them promised themselves they would act in the face of insurmountable odds, he reminds them of pride, honor, dignity … and sacrifice. Always a student of history, he invokes Lincoln to paint the strongest stroke,  ”we are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.” 
 
The comm starts crackling with chatter, the voices of the crew thought lost to the carnage start checking in. Engineering reports they will have warp drive up shortly, the weapons systems start coming online, and all stations are now manned, with three souls to spare.  The Enterprise is back in the fight! 
 
You know the rest, President Barack Obama makes his rendezvous with history.  He and his crew are granted a brief reprieve to reconstitute themselves in a fragile sanctuary. He and his crew boldly go where no president has gone before… 
 
But just as the climactic ending starts to wear off and our pulse returns to normal, we hear that oh-so-familiar refrain, “Stay tuned for clips from next week’s episode.”  And I must say, it looks like one heck of a scary ride.
 
The Klingons are mad as hell, turmoil and dissent are spreading on the home-world. The escape of the Enterprise from their clutches has damaged the very essence of the Klingon empire, their pride. They have broken into family factions, and while they have all been part of the Federation of Planets for some time now, they have always loathed the weakness of the Federation’s current leadership and their constant strive to pursue social justice and equality.  In a Klingon mind, war is always the right answer, sheer brawn triumphs all, compromise is forbidden, and the weakness exemplified by mercy and compassion is a plague that must be contained at all costs. 
 
From the hallowed high council floor, a bellicose Brigadier Boehner incites his home-world, vowing to fight the Federation’s agenda tooth and nail in the halls of power, every step of the way.  He calls them liars, he calls them corrupters, he calls them thieves of Klingon treasure, he admonishes them on every front imaginable. 
 
But one of the families that make up the empire, a family that has been slowly growing in strength, doesn’t think words are enough.  This family had tried to organize around a matriarch in the beginning, a simpleton from the northern lands named Commander Palin, she was launched to prominence when Admiral McCain surprised everyone by announcing her as his second-in-command during his failed bid to become President of the Federation, but she had thus far refused to completely take the reins, although she did leave the door open in case future events would dictate such a move could serve her own self interests.  So instead of a tight knit family with purpose and direction, it was more like a headless monster, wobbling along, with family members of lower standing and recognition trying their best to seize control through tactics of fear and terror.  
 
Fanatical nobodies start crawling out of the woodwork in the vacuum of power, riling up the mob mentality with talk of militia, revolution and weaponry.  The sting of defeat started to allow the tone of defiance to evolve into the actions of treachery. The division of idealism saw the chasm grow wider. 
 
How will things turn out?   Will the President and his crew be able to withstand the confrontations they are sure to face on their perilous trek back home though hostile territory?  Will their precious cargo survive the trip?  Will the Federation stand?  Will the Klingons acknowledge the possibility of an alternate path to a better mutual future?
 
Stay tuned to find out!
 
Now that I’ve had some fun taking creative license to blur the lines of fiction and fact, and I got to have a little chuckle inside from the images in my mind of Rep. John Boehner with tussled hair and crooked teeth, launching spittle as he rants , or Sen. McCain with long flowing hair and a moustache, or Sarah Palin (sorry,  I don’t know what title to give her these days, adventurer, author, huntress, commentator, wilderness girl, almost-full-term-governor, Tea Partier?) with protruding skeletal features on her forehead, and of course the hint of those points on our President’s formidable ears,  I do want to make sure that the message itself  is not taken lightly.
 
The sad truth is, there really are misguided fanatics out there like Mike Vanderboegh, a self-proclaimed revolutionary militia leader, part of a small group of lunatics that seem to be gathering on the fringe of the Tea Party movement.  It’s not a rumor mind you, I heard his words myself in this interview
 
Somewhere along the line, these geniuses jumped the tracks from the righteous fight of our Revolution for Independence from a real tyrant, and landed on another track of our history, the Civil War.  You know, only one of the darkest pages of our past that saw American brothers dying at the hands of one another.  
 
He actually said their ranks comprise of 3% of America’s gun owners, 3 million muzzles that can be pointed at the hearts of tyrants, and he actually advocates getting good and prepared to do just that! 
 
Well, I’ve got news for Mr. Vanderboegh, 3% is not a very mighty number when your talking about a slice of pie.  When a person threatens to take aim at the heart of another citizen because they failed to have the majority voice in a civilized democracy, it is not tyrant-hunting, it’s treason, and I know how America will respond.  I just hope they skip a few chapters to the back of the book on the Civil War and see how it ends before they go and do something stupid. 
 
Just to help them along, America has fought on this ground before.  The Union, the banner under which the federal government fought, was led by a noble man by the name of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican I might add, and they fought for the ideals of equality and social justice that still define our nation today.  The Confederacy, a band of 11 Southern states that declared secession from the Union, was the enemy of that government, but their undoing proved to be numbers, Southern “Unionist” armies formed in every Confederate state, sapping the strength of the Confederacy from within.  So if you and your cohorts really want to tread this dangerous ground Mr. Vanderboegh, I advise you to take a good look at the size of the piece of pie in your hand, because I assure you, I’m not the only one that would stand in opposition with the ability to  snuff out a candle at 100 yards. 
 
But let’s be wise enough not to repeat that dark chapter of history, shall we?  Today’s America is better than that.
 
  
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Poll1The worm may be turning at long last.  President Obama finally found the conduit he has been lacking to have a conversation with a huge portion of the American public that has been rendered deaf and oblivious to his proposals and agenda ever since he won the White House on a wave of hope for change - the Super Bowl, and it paid off big.  The massive audience, the largest in television history, wasn’t tuned in to listen to him, they were ready for some football, and of course, the annual unveiling of the latest gems of advertising that have become just as much of a fun tradition as the game itself.  Tucked into the middle of a fantastic game, and coupled with the rare attention paid to the time slotted between the action, was an Obama sit down with Katie Couric.  What this ultimate bully pulpit afforded him was finally a chance to shine a huge spotlight on the crippling scourge of Washington politics, partisan gridlock.  He took the snap from Couric, slipped a few tackles and trotted the length of the field to score six.
 
Just one day before the game, the media’s attention had been focused farther north, on Nashville Tennessee, where Sarah Palin was keynote speaker at a Grand-Ol’-Opry-style convention of the Tea Party Movement, and let me tell you, it was not good news for the Grand Ol’ Party.  For almost an hour she took every imaginable opportunity to take shots at Barack Obama and she was all over the map in trying to do it.  She chided him for being a professor, not a Commander-in-Chief, she tried to reduce his eloquence and intelligence to some kind of a parlor trick that uses a teleprompter as the main prop.  She invoked the spirit of Ronald Reagan on what would have been his 99th birthday to rally the crowd and then she channeled Bill Clinton’s “there is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed by what is right in America” almost verbatim. She called Alaska, not America, the beacon of hope, then she continued down her erratic path and went on to channel Obama himself by rattling on about the ability of a grass roots movement to change the power structure of Washington. She talked about hope and change and then went on to ask, in folksy Palin’esque fashion, how that “hopey-changey” thing was working out for the millions that were moved by that very same notion just over a year ago.  The icing on the cake though, was the fact that she had crib notes written on her own hand to remind herself to talk about energy, the budget cuts… err, tax cuts and the cherry on top, a reminder to lift American spirits. Well Rush, Hannity and Sarah, start your engines because I am about to drop the R-word that sums that whole fiasco up, “Ridiculous!”  Her whole speech and Q&A session revealed not one single policy idea, no clear love for the Republican party and a call for Washington transparency that Obama would make the crux of his pitch to the American people the very next day.  No, I don’t think the GOP is going to enjoy the rants of Sarah Palin very much at all going forward, unless they are taking the whole “even bad publicity is good publicity” advertising mantra to a whole new level.
 
Thanks to the great American pastime that is the NFL, the gauntlet has been thrown.  Obama got his chance to give the American people a little professorial lesson on political obstructionism and pointed it right at the GOP with one of those big foam fingers.  And if you don’t think so, take these numbers from a Washington Post/ABC News poll done after what may just become known as the GOP’s Black Sunday.  The majority is now blaming the Republicans in congress as the problem by virtue of their unwillingness to compromise in order to move our country forward.  Even a whopping 42% of Republicans seem to want them to keep trying to pass a Health Care bill. 
 
President Barack Obama has shifted the conversation to American progress, not political gamesmanship, and put a bullet in the chamber to up the stakes considerably on the game the Republican party has been playing without the threat of consequence for over a year now.  All I can say is they better paint on their game faces and get themselves ready for one tough opponent.  On February 25th, they had better bring some real and tangible ideas to the table, because for a majority of Americans, at this defining moment, “just say no” simply won’t cut it anymore.
 
Barack Obama has put your tickets in the mail and you will all have sideline seats on the 50 yard line.  I hope I see you all there.  Bring on the Game!
Obama and sealPresident Obama’s State of the Union address was his most potent, well crafted and well delivered work of sheer eloquence that he has conveyed to the American people since his soaring prose moved a nation to elect him and caused the world to learn his name.  He did what Barack Obama has done since his very first days, he took the center lane and tore off the mirrors, because like in the classic racing movie, The Gumball Rally, “the first rule of Italian racing? What’s behind you doesn’t matter” and what possible good could ever come from following any curb too closely.
 
He started by acknowledging decades worth of long rooted anxieties and he swiftly pivoted to a theme he would hammer home later on, the fact that we can not afford to be a casualty of partisan gridlock, not now.  He reminded us of America’s proven stubborn resilience in the face of adversity and he framed it with his ever present hopefulness.  It would be the first time the audience would come to their feet in loud unison, but not the last.  He reminded us that fear and division will not break our sprit and then he came to the first course, the economy.
 
This is where we will hear the first calls of criticism, because any word of criticism for anything he said up to this point would be impossible for anyone that would even try to call themselves a patriot.  Here the boo-birds that are in a froth to find something to nitpick will say, how could he make a joke when he’s talking about the economy, doesn’t he know how much people are suffering, well I’d say that his roots in community organizing should make it a pretty fair bet that he knows exactly how people are suffering right now, so just to nip this in the bud, let me say that it was a perfect binding mechanism to show how we can unifiy to face a common threat, even if it was about being unified by hate over the bank bailout.  He didn’t like it, they didn’t like it, we didn’t like it, nobody liked it, and he rightfully likened it to a root canal.  Love a root canal?  Any takers?  But, I’d bet there were more than a few advertising magnates out there wondering how they could possibly harness that disarming smile.
 
Then he told America in no uncertain terms what his recovery bill did.  It saved a banking system teetering on the brink of collapse, it initiated 25 different tax cuts for the middle class, for home buyers, for teachers, for parents paying college tuitions … for people just like you and me.  He said point blank that not a single person pays a single dime more in income tax and that the recovery bill saved 2 million jobs from unemployment.  It also created 200,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, it hired 300,000 teachers and it is on track to add 1.5 million more jobs, all an impact from the recovery act, better known as the oft’ hated stimulus bill.
 
Then he touched the current of  America’s heated third rail, J-O-B-S.  With an ever present eye on the ideal we all hold on to as the American Dream, he made sure to let us know that he does listen, that for every success story the resolute steel of American ingenuity produces there are many more stories of anguish.  So tonight, he called for a new Jobs Bill that will start putting Americans back to work and try to rekindle the dreams and dignity that come from a descent job and a living wage.  He stressed the need to change tact in the modus operandi of our lending institutions, he stressed that their current practice of lending primarily only to big institutions is choking the great American engine that leads to most jobs, the small businesses that are bleeding themselves dry because they can’t get the credit they need to competitively expand their businesses and provide those new, much needed jobs.  I’m a victim myself, so I can certainly attest to the veracity of this particular problem.
 
Then he began hitting more than one note at a time and started with more complex chords.  He used a bass line of putting Americans to work by building the infrastructure of tomorrow and then added the mid range notes of asking how long we should put America’s future on hold, while reminding us that China’s not waiting, Gemany’s not waiting,  nobody else is waiting, why should we? The he artfully plucked the high tones of American pride, “I do not accept second place for America!” and neither should we or those responsible for governing.
 
And after his recent rollout of banking fees he made sure to make clear that his interest is not a partisan shot to punish banks, but a non-partisan attempt to protect the economy.  He also showed some long awaited moxie by drawing a clear line in the sand, if a bill made it to his desk that does not meet his test of serving the American people, he will send it back until they get it right. He sent a clear signal that rolling over would not be part of any equation.
 
He talked about creating new jobs building state-of-the-art clean nuclear power plants and as an olive branch for bipartisan support he talked about expanding to new offshore areas for oil and gas development, as well as biomass and clean coal,  and yes a comprehensive clean energy bill that will make clean energy the profitable kind of energy, all the while beating the drum we all want to hear, that America should lead the world in these fields of tomorrow, adding the needed emphasis with the hammer that the nation that leads the green energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.
 
Then he expanded on his plans for America in the global marketplace by setting a goal to double American exports in the next five years and add 2 million new jobs in the process.  On the note of maintaining our competitiveness in the global marketplace, he also talked about investing in the skills and education of our workforce and crystallized his ambition to do it by telling us that the best remedy for poverty is a world class education.  How do we get there?  We start by redistributing the money from those unnecessary fees imposed by banks on student loans and applying it to give a $10,000 tax credit for 4 years of college, because “no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.”
 
Then he got to the crown of thorns that has been the talk of the chattering class for the last few months, Health Care Reform.  Knowing that this is the bully pulpit’s strongest hour by far, he started off by trying to finally clear the misconceptions about his agenda that have been stretched and skewed by everyone from the Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins of the far right to the Blue Dog democrats staking conservative ground in democrat’s clothing.  Howard Dean even had a lot of, let’s say imaginative, thingsto say from the left. So he started with this simplistic plea about his ambitions for Health Care Reform, “Let’s clear some things up.”  He fully accepted the blame for not explaining his case for Health Care Reform clearly enough to the American people and did his best to rectify that shortcoming.  He went on to say that he didn’t decide to take on this problem that has been lingering unfixed in our nation for decades for any kind of notch on his belt or because, as he jokingly said, that it was good politics, he is pursuing it because of the countless stories of desperation he has heard from all over the country.  He vowed to never walk away from this challenge and threw the gauntlet to the halls of congress for them not to walk away from the American people on this paramount issue either.  Then he opened the floor for partisan obstructionism to put its money where its mouth is, if anybody has a better idea on how to achieve a better health care system that will ensure quality care for every American, he’s all ears.  You have a better idea? He’s listening.  All he asks is just don’t walk away from reform, let’s find a way to come together and finally serve the will of the American people.
 
Then he got into the realities of the budget numbers that he is being so critically judged on by the media and the American public.  He started with the $200 billion surplus that was the legacy of the Clinton administration, then he talked about the multi-trillion dollar mess he had waiting for him before he even walked in the door.  He told us that he knows that many Americans are suffering and have tightened their belts to the limit to try to weather the storm.  He said government should be responding in kind and if anyone was thinking of testing his resolution on this, he vowed that if he has to enforce this discipline by the power of his veto, he will, and just for good measure he also vowed to overturn a recently failed bill by executive order, so if anyone is thinking about trying to strike this guy out, they better bring a pretty strong bull pen of pitchers with them because he wants to take a novel new concept for a spin on capitol hill, common sense.
 
Then we got to see President Obama in his natural element, that of a constitutional law professor.  Those were indeed some sour faces on the supreme court justices when they were getting publicly flogged by the President in the hottest spotlight that an address to the American public can offer, and getting admonished on that stage for changing a century of law by their decision to open the flood gates of limitless influence in American political elections by any deep pocketed special interest group, or even any foreign entity for that matter, must not have made for a pleasant evening for five of them.  I have a pretty strong feeling that he is going to own this ground before all is said and done on this catastrophic decision.
 
Then he finally did what I’ve been waiting for someone to finally do, loudly and publicly, he took to task the monstrosity that partisan politics has become.  He looked congress square in the eye and told them that legislation can not be reduced to things as meaningless as old grudges between senators, and that while blindly saying no may be good politics for self preservation, it is certainly not a wise path to choose to good leadership. 
 
Then he closed with in his patented Obama’esque fashion.  He talked about our connected destiny with those beyond our shores, he talked about doing the right things because we know that they are right by virtue of the long held values that forged our nation, the fundamental decency that is the core of the American people.  He rekindled that spark of enduring hope.
 
And if you were looking for a “read my lips”, or a “the buck stops here” moment for the history books, here is one from his closing sentence and an ample portion of American spirit that should fit the bill:
 
“WE DON’T QUIT! … I DON”T QUIT!”
 
Ladies and gentleman, the state of our union is strong, but it will take something from all of us to make it even stronger.  I hope for all our sakes that everyone from Joe the plumber to the chosen few in the halls of power that have the opportunity to wield the power of change were listening.