Posts Tagged ‘Mitch McConnell’

The Republicans have made a lot of political hay about “the massive” health care reform bills — comparing them to Tolstoy’s novel War and Peace, often cited as the world’s longest novel.  Once again, their political hay is full of little more than hot air.  It’s easy to expand something written by increasing the margins, enlarging the font and setting extra wide margins.  While that may make it easier to read, much like the large print books for visually challenged readers, those tricks don’t make it longer.  It just kills more trees.

The official version of the Senate’s health care bill has been printed in the Congressional Record.  It comes in at 208 pages — not over 2000!

A more accurate way of gauging the length of a written piece is to count words.  The House version of the health care reform bill comes in at just over 318,000 words;  the Senate bill is some 1500 words shorter.   As a matter of comparison, No Child Left Behind came in at 280,000 words.  Tolstoy’s War and Peace, depending upon which translation is used weighs in at a whopping 560,00 or even 670,000 words!

So, once again, the GOP leadership is using sleight of hand deception to create the image of big government.  Let’s be honest.  The conservatives would like nothing more than to see 100% of the federal budget used for defense.  All these regulations just get in their way.  And if that’s what you like, I would caution you to consider what has happened to our economy each and every time in our history when unfettered capitalism gained primacy.  The stock market crash of 1929, followed by a decade-long Great Depression; deregulation of the savings and loan industry, followed by its collapse in the early 1990s; and our current financial debacle.  The common causal thread in all of those events was a distaste for regulation and the inevitable greed that deregulation unleashed.

Republicans as a group seem to be plagued by short memories.  While ignorance of history might be understood (not forgiven, just understood), Dana Perino’s latest pronouncement takes the cake.  After demonstrating her ignorance of “ancient” history (apparently defined as anything prior to her birth) when she allowed as how she didn’t know about the Cuban Missile Crisis, she has topped that by stating on Fox News that there wasn’t a terrorist attack during George W. Bush’s term while condemning the Fort Hood attack as terrorism.  To be sure, 9/11 happened before she became Bush’s press secretary, but it cannot be denied as a seminal event of his presidency.  Pathetic.  Ignorant.


Read Full Post »

Rep. John Boehner has made the outrageous claim that he hasn’t come into contact with a single person who supports the public option.  Maybe he should spend less time in the tanning booth and more time talking to real people.  If he’s serious, I know lots of people he could talk to — people ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s; people who were long-time Republicans (until the party decided to hang out in the swamps).

And then there’s Rep. Michele Bachmann, whose speeches and pronouncements seem often to border on certifiable paranoia.  Ms. Bachmann informed the House last night that school based health clinics are sex clinics in disguise and a plot to provide abortions to teens without notifying their parents.  Her claim is, of course, totally spurious in that all existing law requiring parental permission is upheld.

But Sen. Mitch McConnell has finally made the ultimate gaffe — by telling the truth.  He has announced that the GOPers wouldn’t support health care reform even if the Dems caved in and accepted ALL of the GOP’s amendments and recommendations.

At one point the GOP said that they were developing an alternative health care reform plan.  That was several months ago, but nothing has been presented since then, other than a multitude of “message” amendments.  Could it be that they are finding that developing such a plan requires hard work?  After all, it’s so much easier to just say “no” to whatever the Democratic majority proposes.

Is it any wonder that the GOP brand is in the tank?  It is as if sanity and reason have been completely rejected by the GOP leadership and elected representatives in Washington.  It comes as no surprise that so many Americans think that the GOP members of Congress are playing politics with health care reform, that they put a higher value on gaining political points than on doing what’s best for the country.  Enough.

Read Full Post »

Congressional Republicans like to think that they are standing on principle when opposing President Obama at every opportunity.  But, if that is the case, they are out of step with the majority of Americans.  It is little wonder that their approval rating continues to sink.

It wasn’t surprising that no House Republicans voted in favor of the president’s budget.  But to try to spin the vote as “bipartisan rejection,” as Sen. Mitch McConnell did, because two House Democrats also voted against it is laughable.  I suppose they need to try to find some element of relevance, but they’re not doing themselves any favors in how they’re going about it.  More Republicans voted against their own budget alternative than Democrats who voted against the president’s.  I wonder how they spun that one, since it was a more resoundingly bipartisan rejection.  Sen. McConnell’s assessment? … crickets.

Equally cynical and transparent are the attempts to delay votes on key appointments.  We know that the Senate operates under a series of rules that to most outsiders seem archane, and there are a number of words and terminology not familiar to the average American. Any Senator can put a hold on a nomination for any reason.   While the definition doesn’t add much to the discussion, in essence a hold is a delaying tactic that is short of a filibuster.  Sometimes holds are used as the Senator seeks answers to additional questions from the nominee.  Other times they are used to extract concessions from the Executive Branch.  And sometimes they are simply used as delaying tactics to embarrass both the nominee and the White House and create a chilling effect on some future policy direction.

It seems reasonable to assume that ideological differences is the underlying reason for the holds placed on most of these nominees.  When the Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, they demanded that Democrats accede to an “up or down vote.”  Have they suddenly had a change of heart?  Or were their demands then intended to forestall the possibility of a filibuster by Democrats?

Filibusters are an accepted tactic used by the minority party to delay action.  Initially, it was intended to be used to ensure that minority views be heard — to prevent the tyranny of the majority.  Over the years, filibuster and even the threat of filibuster (in the form of a cloture motion requiring 60 votes) has become a tool by which the minority can obstruct the will of the majority — to institute a form of tyranny by the minority. The graph below shows the increasing use of cloture — note particularly the huge spike that began in 2006, as Democrats gained seats in both houses of Congress.  Is it any wonder that Congress manages to get less and less done — or that its approval rating has diminished over the same period!

Senate cloture votes 1947 - 2008 (Source: Wikipedia)

Senate cloture votes 1947 - 2008 (Source: Wikipedia)

The seating of Al Franken, who won the Minnesota Senatorial seat previously held by Republican Norm Coleman would bring the Democrats within a single vote of being “filibuster-proof.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is simply the most vocal of a number of Republicans working hard to prevent Franken’s seating, even if that means denying the people of Minnesota their constitutionally required two Senators.  Similarly, now that Ted Stevens’ conviction has been thrown out for prosecutorial misconduct, Sarah Palin and others are calling for duly elected Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) to resign his seat so that there can be a special election — in which Stevens would presumably run and possibly win. This is particularly ironic in that Attorney General Holder’s decision does not claim that Stevens was innocent, merely that the actions of the Bush Justice Department were so egregious that the conviction itself was tainted.  The actions of  Republicans vis a vis the Senatorial elections in Minnesota and Alaska and the recent special House election in New York (which is currently tied with thousands of absentee ballots remaining to be counted but where the GOP is already crying foul) would indicate that Republicans don’t have much faith in elections or in the electorate.

Given the GOP actions since they lost control of Congress in 2006, one must ask whether the principle they stand on is the Principle of Obstruction.

Read Full Post »

There is plenty to write about, including wondering about the real motives of those Southern Republican Senators who killed the auto industry bailout and the spine of the Democratic Senate leadership who, once again, caved in to the threat of a filibuster.  I don’t understand why they don’t call the Republicans’ bluff more often.  It seems that once again the Senate, and the rest of us, are being held captive.  Mitch McConnell’s new moniker is Senator No.  The filibuster was supposed to prevent the tyranny of the majority, but in recent years it has served more to extract concessions for special interests, in this case union-busting.

In the meantime, I’m waiting to see if the White House decides to scare up some of the massive bailout to throw towards the auto industry.  Left-eyed Jack posted a most interesting map yesterday showing where the largest concentrations of poverty are in this country.  Well, guess what?  That map, and the post-election map showing where the voters are growing even more conservative are just about the same!  And you could pretty much lay a map showing where people are the least healthy and find a close correlation.  Folks, this is not a coincidence.   Despite what the Republicans would like us to believe, the facts prove that we’re all better off, including the stock market, when Democrats are in power.

But more on that another day. There’s a pretty exciting and significant even occurring in my life today — a wedding.  Not a big splashy one, just a small, civil ceremony.  In and out in a matter of 15 minutes.  But it’s an important event, and my personal calendar is rather crowded.  A gal has to look her best, you know.  After all, there will be photos to commemorate the occasion.  So, fee free to comment, to read back through previous posts, and even to make suggestions on possible topics.  I welcome the discussion, and your concerns and topics are as important as mine are.

Read Full Post »