Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

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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The Road ForwardIt seems that many Americans tune right out when they see another story about health care these days, so I’m not going to make this a story about health care.  Instead,  I’m going tell you a tale about a dream and two buses.  I hope it delivers the point I feel compelled to make.
 
It’s like I’m trapped in a dream, a dream so vivid and real I find myself questioning if I’m awake or asleep. It starts with me finding myself crammed in a crowded bus terminal with scores of other Americans waiting for a bus, any bus, to arrive at last.  We’ve been huddled together for the last fifty years, watching one bus after another just pass the terminal right on by, but now, finally,  after the eternal wait, two buses pull in together, but neither is marked. 
 
Desperate to leave the station, I spring to my feet to go ask the bus drivers what their destinations are.  I’m filled with hope that this miserable way station will soon be behind me once and for all. 
 
So I approach the first bus. It’s old, dusty and dented and has obviously seen a lot of hard miles.
 
I climb on and pose my question to the driver, “What’s your destination?”  The driver sets his beaten cap back on his head and says, “This bus is on the road to a new beginning. You should know before deciding on which bus to take that on this bus there are going to be many stops along the way, there will be bumps and potholes, curves and traffic.  This bus is always crowded, we’ve got nurses and mechanics, teachers and plumbers.  We’ve got hard working couples and single parents,  we’ve got seniors and students, and a whole bunch in between, all of them doing what they can to make ends meet. Since there are so many that need to ride this bus, the fare will be what you can afford and no one will be turned away. I should also tell you that we will be stopping for anyone broken down on the side of the road and offer them assistance or even a lift.  If we happen to break down along the way ourselves, we’ve got all the tools with us we could possibly need to fix any problem that arises, but we will be asking everyone on board to work together to get us back on the road and you may have to get your hands dirty. Our destination is the journey itself – we’re going that way my friend.”  He points his calloused finger through the grit covered windshield and adds with a smile, “forward.”  Not knowing what to think, I thank him and climb off for the other bus.
 
This bus is different, this bus is shiny and clean.  This bus looks sleek and fast. This bus not only has a driver, but a tour guide with a microphone sitting right behind him.  This bus has air conditioning and little plasma TVs on the back of every wide, comfortable seat. This bus is really, really nice. 
 
So I pose the same question to the driver, “What’s your destination?”  This driver doesn’t answer the question, he just shrugs and points over his shoulder to the tour guide holding the microphone and says, “don’t ask me, I’m just the driver, the guy with the mic tells me where to go.” 
 
Mr. Microphone takes his cue and starts his well polished pitch, “Welcome friend, you’ve come to the right bus.  I heard you ask where this bus goes, well, that’s the beauty of it, this is an express-liner that is going exactly where we know you want it to go.  There will be no stops along the way, no delays, no traffic and you will feel like you are driving on air. We mainly cater to captains of industry, CEOs and leaders of business, so there is plenty of elbow room and we have spared no tax dollar to guarantee a comfortable and enjoyable ride for our select clientele. Our fare is simple and affordable, only one crisp, new, three dollar bill.  If you don’t happen to have one, have no fear, we will gladly sell you one for five dollars. Should we experience any unexpected trouble on our journey, you will be comforted to know help is just a cell call away, I have the best cell phone money can buy right here.  We will have a highly skilled team on the spot in no time and be right on our way. If you want to arrive in style, this is really the only choice.”
 
That’s all I needed to hear.  After 50 years in a crowded room with stale air, only one word popped in my head and just as quickly escaped from my lips, “Sold!”  I reached into my pocket and found four singles and enough change to make five because I certainly didn’t have a three dollar bill. It’s all I had left, but this was going to be well worth it.  It was a meager price to pay for such comfort and luxury.
 
As I made my way to my window seat, I was pleased that no one had sat down next to me when I heard the hiss of the doors closing.  I looked around and counted six other people, well dressed professional types, all sitting relaxed and in comfort.  From my seat I had a view of the other bus and had spent the last few minutes mesmerized by the chaos.  So many people were trying to squeeze in, there were kids running around, and they had a devil of a time trying to get an older gentleman in a wheelchair up and onto the bus.  But the driver I spoke to was on the case and had a few husky men from the bus get out and help lift him in.
 
Their bus got on the road before ours.  We were still getting a speech from Mr. Microphone detailing all the frills available to us, champagne, sparkling water, roasted duck, filet mignon, and 4 spacious bathrooms for the seven of us.  Our seats could fold open into beds and there was even a Swedish masseuse available at no charge.  Ahh, this was the life.
 
I was so comfortable and relaxed, I must have dozed off, but I was awakened by Mr. Microphone and felt the bus starting to slow down.  “If you were wondering if you made the right choice choosing our line, let me draw your attention to the roadside just up ahead.” 
 
There was the other bus, broken down on the side of the road. They had blown a tire and caused some damage to the underside.  We had slowed to a crawl so everyone was sure to have a good look at what they were missing.  I noticed a few passengers getting the spare, another working the jack and the mechanic I had met at the terminal sliding under to see what he could do.  The teacher was leading the children in a game to occupy them and the nurse was caring for the elderly gentleman in the wheelchair that seemed to be having difficulty in the desert heat. 
 
“Shouldn’t we stop to help?”, I asked. 
 
Mr. Microphone took on an arrogant tone and said,”This is an express, remember?  We don’t stop for anything or anyone.  They made their choice and picked that bus, and now they are just going to have to live with it.  I consider it a lesson well learned for the next time they face the choice.”
 
I felt dirty and cheap, but there was nothing I could do.  I couldn’t go back to sleep after that.  I just found myself thinking about those people stuck in the hot sun and I started connecting some dots about what Mr. Microphone had said earlier.  I hadn’t spent one second applying any kind of thought when he was originally making his pitch to me about this wonderful bus, I was too blinded by all the bells and whistles, and I was too eager to get the hell out of that terminal at along last. I began to feel genuine fear wash over me. How do they know where I want to go without ever asking?  How could the seven of us be trying to get to the same place if we are from such obviously different stations in life? 
 
Just then came a loud bang, quickly followed by the familiar rat-tat-tat of a blown tire.  Our bus veered out of control and went off the road, nose first into a ditch and came to a jarring halt.  Everyone seemed to be physically OK, but very angry none the less.  These passengers were not used to inconvenience and it showed.
 
“Don’t worry people, we’ll be out of this in no time, I’m just going to make a call,” bellowed Mr. Microphone with his amplified voice.  He dialed and held the phone to his ear.  A frustrated look flashed on his face and he hung up and tapped the keys again, only to have the same look on his face with a tinge of panic creeping in this time.  He held the phone higher, nothing. He went outside and tried again, same routine and the same look, anger added this time.
 
When Mr. Microphone re boarded the bus, he tried to put on the calmest look he could, “I don’t seem to be able to get a signal out here in the middle of the desert.”  This was bad – this was really bad, and we all knew it.
 
After a few tumultuous hours, panic and anger had a solid grip on all of us.  There was not enough food or water for this delay.  There was no help in sight and all other emotions were quickly turning to rage.  My fellow passengers, new to calamity and desperation,  were coming apart at the seams. 
 
Just when all hope was almost extinguished, there was a faint sound getting louder.  The steady, rhythmic beat of an old engine was heading our way.  It was the other bus and they were coming to a stop right behind us.  The driver stepped out and came tapping on the glass doors.  “You seem to be in quite a pickle, what can we do to help?”
 
“Do you have  a cell phone I could use to call for some help?”, Mr. Microphone asked, somewhat humbled by what he had been through for the better part of a miserable day. 
 
“Don’t carry one, everyone knows there is not a reliable signal out here,” chuckled the driver,  “we’ve picked up quite a few troubled souls stuck out here in the desert already, so I don’t have enough room for all of you, but let me see what I can do to help.”  
 
With that he disappeared back to his bus.  I could barely hear him trying to get his passengers to settle down so he could explain the situation. After a few minutes that were inaudible to me, the doors to his bus swung open again and he stepped off  onto the parched earth below.  But this time he was not alone.  One by one, every able-bodied passenger on board filed out behind him, and there were a lot of them.
 
The mechanic had a look and determined that the stranded bus could still drive if they changed the tire and got it out of the ditch.  The other bus driver started forming groups and telling them what to do.  As the mob circled us, you could sense nervousness from the pampered elite that I had shared my journey with so far, but not one uttered even a single peep of protest.  The way the bus was perched in the ditch, the mechanic didn’t even need a jack to change the tire and did so in a flash.  Then I heard the bus driver in a loud baritone voice, “One…two…three…LIFT !” It felt like the earth started moving. One back breaking inch by back breaking inch, the bus leveled out and when he finally called for everyone to drop it, you could tell we were back on even ground.
 
The driver came back to the door dripping with sweat and said, “There you are, all ready to go, enjoy your trip folks, make it a safe one.”  With that he waved his hand and called for his passengers to get back on their bus.
 
When Mr. Microphone said, “See folks, nothing to worry about, I told you I would get us out of here,” I almost threw up, what arrogance, what gall. I knew I had to get off this bus, I knew I didn’t belong here.  So, I snatched up my things and bolted for the door, not even saying goodbye.
 
I ran to the bus behind us and pounded on the door, just as the the driver started it up.  “I want to ride with you, can you take me with you?”  He cracked the door and said smiling, “I think we can make room for one more, how much of a fare can you afford to pay?”  An electric shock pummeled my system when I heard those words, I had given everything I had left in my pocket for the other ride.  “I gave the other driver everything I had left,” I said with a quivering voice. 
 
“I told you back at the station, no one will ever be turned away, climb on and find a seat.” the driver said with a knowing nod.
 
With that I started a new journey.  Maybe it wasn’t going to be a journey of comfort and convenience, but I did have peace of mind and I knew that on this bus I would never have the sick feeling in my stomach as we drove by troubled souls without bothering ourselves to stop and assist.  I also knew that I would never find myself stuck in a desert all alone with no one there to hear a cry for help.  Everything we could possibly need to make the journey forward is already on our bus and if we work together, there is no problem we will not be able to fix along the way.
 
I’m awake now, and I hope you are too, because today is not a dream.  Those two buses are arriving at the station right now. 
 
So keep this in the front of your mind.  It’s not about the divisive rhetoric you’ll hear spewed from a microphone, or the zeal and practiced polish with which it is repetitively delivered, it’s about knowing which driver is content to leave you stranded in the desert and which one won’t be.  It’s about choosing substance over flash and style.  It’s about realizing that it’s the crowded bus filled with fellow Americans from all walks of life that will always allow us to overcome any and all adversity we may face on the twisting, bumpy road that stretches ever forward to the glowing horizon we all instinctively seek.  It’s about which driver will incompetently trust your fate to a missing signal in the desert, and which one will have you trust in each other instead.
 
I hope this will help you choose wisely … but if you don’t, make sure you have a three dollar bill handy, or the ride to nowhere is going to cost you almost double the advertised price.
 
And yes, I lied.  I guess this story is about health care after all. Fifty years of waiting is long enough. 
 
All aboard!

Joust

Will tomorrow’s health care summit get the historic attention it deserves?  Will the problems of attainable health care and skyrocketing costs finally be solved?
 
This is going to be an opportunity for more than just Congress to get on the same page, but Main Stream Media (MSM) as well.  It will also be a first look at what real Washington transparency should look like when our fate is decided by a chosen few.
 
Sensationalism and saturation were the guiding principles during the election campaigns, but will this important gathering get the same unbridled attention?  Will MSM be taking names and breaking heads, making anyone that is not at least trying to legitimately move our country forward pay for it the way they crush anyone else that lands on their target list?  Will FOX stay true to form and be against everything uttered from Obama’s mouth, will MSNBC or CNN play their own favorites? Time will soon tell if the word unbiased is the golden rule of news that it should be.
 
If MSM can make Joe the Plumber a household name, I would hope that when our opposing parties converge in Washington to grind out a solution to a problem that has plagued administrations for decades, they will be stepping up to the plate as well.
 
The theatrics have already started.  Some prominent Republicans have already made up their minds that this whole thing is an exercise in futility.  Words like “trap” and “non-starter” have been flying around since President Obama threw down the gauntlet of bipartisanship during the Super Bowl.  Ridiculous issues like whether or not the President can stand at a podium, or must be seated at eye level with the rest of the attendees so as not to have a perceived position of strength (this is our President, right?) are actually topics of battle right now and I find that kind of small minded thinking distressing. I don’t care if they get together at a Denny’s and hash it out over some hash browns and eggs.  I don’t care if it’s done in a big circle around a campfire with everyone sitting Indian style, just get it done and put America first for once.
 
If anyone thinks this is a trap, they don’t have any ideas.  If anyone thinks this is a non-starter unless it starts with a blank page, they are an obstructionist.  Seems pretty simple to me.  Both sides should get over themselves and finally put the American people first instead of any silly partisan point scoring or career maneuvering.  Democrats better go into this thing with an open mind as well, or the repercussions they could suffer in November from the fallout could be severe.  America is tired of the playground antics and if good, tangible ideas to finally end the stalemate come from the Republican corner, Democrats better embrace them.  By the same token, if good, tangible ideas come from the Democratic corner to bridge the divide, the same holds true of the Republicans.  No party can ever be allowed to trump the will of the people and Obama’s election crystallized where the majority of Americans want to go at this moment in time.
 
Any one foolish enough to say America has already spoken and resoundingly rejected health care reform must be living in an alternate plane of  existence where John McCain is their president.  For the rest of us, Thursday is going to be a grand test to see who deserves to be called a legislator and who the imposters are. 
 
I’ll be watching the whole thing tomorrow and I’ll be back on Friday with my own take on who the winners and losers from both factions were.  As long as America isn’t on the loser’s list again, I’ll be one happy clam.
 
See you Friday!
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!