Saturday, October 5, 2013

Who is Ted Cruz and what does he want?

When newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) began making news a year ago, the image I picked up was of this Princeton and Harvard Law School graduate and clerk for SCOTUS Chief Justice Rhenquist,  who was now spouting Tea Party rhetoric, presumably as a cynical tactic to build a conservative base for his political ambitions.

As he then went on to grab more and more of the spotlight, everybody began talking about his 2016 ambitions.   What seemed alarming, from a liberal viewpoint, was that he might just be the moderate in radical clothing who could win the Republican primary as the Tea Party hero -- and then pivot to a more moderate position for a formidable run in the general election in 2016.  

Mitt Romney tried that in 2012, but he just wasn't convincing as a right-wing conservative.  Cruz might win the Tea Party crowd, but he has lost the moderates and, for right now, even the sane members of the GOP establishment.  

We were not wrong about Cruz's ambition and his tactics.   But assuming that he is a moderate in disguise, playing cynical strategy, may be wrong.   Cruz comes by his conservatism naturally.

His father fled the Castro regime in Cuba and settled in Texas to work in the oil industry.   Cruz grew up in that ultra-conservative environment, which included his father being a part-time, charismatic, fundamentalist preacher.

It turns out he has no strategy, no end game for what to do now that he succeeded in leading Republicans into this government shut down.
Ted Cruz is not a leaderhe is a narcissistic opportunist.
Even Grover Norquist is down on him, saying:   "He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away."   He couldn't deliver the Senate vote as he had promised, so he has just been laying low.  Meanwhile, fellow Republicans are furious at him. 

Hubris . . .it's brought down many a better man than Ted Cruz.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Another take on crazy

A commentator interviewed by one of the MSNBC news shows Wednesday night (sorry I can't remember who it was) had a good line.    When asked about Republicans' demands that President Obama "negotiate" with them, he said:
 "It's hard to negotiate with crazy."
Amen.  And that's what we have going on in the House Republican caucus.  Here's another way to look at that crazy:

They wanted to shut down Obamacare, so they attached it to the government funding bill.  Instead of shutting down Obamacare, however, they shut down the government.

The other crazy part of this is that they delude themselves in thinking the American people will blame the president.  Instead, by a goodly number, people blame the Republicans.

Still they persist.   So of course everybody is dragging out that old adage, often attributed to Albert Einstein:
"Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results."
Republicans are making everybody else look like Einstein these days.   They go on TV and rail about how they're the ones standing up for the American people, because in the House they're passing these piecemeal re-appropriate driplets -- always the thing that's most damaging in the news.

But it would be so simple to end the shutdown:   21 House Republicans now say they would vote for a clean bill.  With the Democrats, that's more than enough to pass the Senate bill and end this whole thing.   They could do it in an hour.    Instead, John Boehner refuses to bring it up -- so they can continue their (false) blaming the Democrats and the president.

Now that is crazy -- unless of course your goal is simply to maintain your power and think this is the way to do it.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reality check

Let's get a few things straight -- because the Republicans have been doing everything they can to twist the truth.

1.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was legitimately passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama three years ago.   It is the law of the land.

2.  Except for one part, which is no longer part of ACA, the constitutionality of the law was upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court.

3.  President Obama ran for re-election on it;   Mitt Romney ran on the promise to get rid of it.   Obama won re-election.   So, it's the law, it's constitutional, and the people voted to re-elect its chief author/promoter.

4.  Republicans don't like the law.   They now have a majority in the House -- but that is only one of three entities that have to approve laws.

5.  House Republicans have voted about 44 times now in vain attempts to gut the law or overturn it outright.   They fail every time to get it passed by the Senate, and the president would veto it if it did.    To continue is a fool's errand.

6.  There are enough Republicans in the House who have now said they would vote to support a "clean" bill to finance the government that it would now even pass the House.  But Speaker Boehner refuses to bring it to the floor.

7.  Now the Republicans are screaming that it is Obama who will not "negotiate," who is responsible for shutting down the government.

8.  The fact is that the "Continuing Resolution" bill to keep the government running is already a huge compromise from the Democrats.   For this temporary spending bill, they accepted the continuation of the Republican numbers in the sequester bill.   There is nothing further to negotiate -- other than gutting Obamacare.

9.  It is clear and simple -- it has nothing to do with spending, nothing to do with government services, and everything to do with a political fight to defeat the president's signature legislation.

10.  Republicans can do this because they control enough state governments that they have been able to redraw district lines so favorable to them that they amount to safe seats in Congress for these conservatives.   They don't worry about being voted out of office in 2016 in the House.   But it will be different in the Senate and the Presidential 2016 election.

11.  Beyond the politics, though.    How can they look in the mirror and feel proud of what they are doing?   Do they not have the slightest twinge of conscience about what they are doing to individual lives and to our joint economic health?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

End shutdown now -- you could, John Boehner

Speaker John Boehner could bring the government shutdown to an end today -- if he would.   Seventeen Eighteen Twenty Twenty-onec (and counting) House Republicans have said that they would vote for a "clean" bill that does not try to cripple Obamacare.    Add the Democrats, and that makes a majority, with a few votes to spare.

But he stubbornly refuses to bring such a bill to the House floor.

Why won't he do it?   Is he that beholden to (or scared of) the Tea Party?   Republicans are holding the country hostage to a minority obsession -- it's even a minority within the Republican party.

Enough.    Do it now.


Meanwhile . . .

The news headlines are all about the government shutdown.    But the even bigger news is that Tuesday was also the roll-out day for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

By accounts, it was a big first day.   Despite the expected glitches, in New York alone over 2 million people went to the web sites to get information or to apply.  In Illinois alone, some 10,000 people actually filed applications on the insurance exchange.   That's on the first day.

So here is the happy thought about today:

The American people are going to like Obamacare -- and they will credit the president and the Democrats.

The American people are going to hate the government shutdown -- and they will blame the Republicans for that.

Fair enough?   Both well deserved.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So, what now?

So, what happens now?    Headlines say this may go on for weeks -- this government shutdown.

I'm so far past disbelief at the lengths these Republicans will go to try to defeat Obama.

There has got to be some bad consequences for this.  I wish they could be voted out of office before next November.   Another whole year of this foolishness juvenile temper tantrums.

As Elizabeth Warren put it so clearly:
"I wonder what alternate reality some of my colleagues are living in. . . .

"Congress voted for this law. President Obama signed this law. The Supreme Court upheld this law. The President ran for reelection on this law. His opponent said he would repeal itand his opponent lost by five million votes. . . .

"The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land."
Just because you don't like this law -- you're going to shut down the government to try to get your way?


Monday, September 30, 2013

Hign Noon on Capitol Hill

It reminds me of the old Gary Cooper film, "High Noon," with a much anticipated shootout at high noon in the middle of the road in that dusty cattle town.    To me, anyway, it's clear who's wearing the white hats and who the black hats -- the way old Westerns designated good vs evil.

The House Republicans have just passed yet another poison pill bill to keep the government running -- knowing the Senate will defeat it and Obama would veto it.   Rumors are leaking out from Ted Cruz, no less, that once the Senate votes this one down, the House will pass a "clean" bill (without any defunding of Obamacare measures in it).

They better hurry.   There are only 3 hours and 9 minutes left before the midnight witching hour.

What childishness.    They made their point long ago.  They don't like Obamacare and they're scared to death that it's going to become popular.    They told enough lies to make their base think it's a bad thing.   But once it begins to make life better for people, they will know the Republicans have been lying to them.

Better get this up and posted lest it become old news before it gets up.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The unreality of GOP thinking

With a large majority of Americans saying they will blame the Republicans if the government is shut down -- what are they thinking?

When reporters ask some of the insider Republicans what they intend to do when the senate votes down the bill they just sent back to them demanding a delay in Obamacare in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, their replies indicate that they really don't think that's going to happen -- or that President Obama would veto it, if the senate does.

Obviously, this is a monumental game of chickenand they think the Democrats will cave.   This time, I don't think they will.

And they shouldn't.    To reward the juvenile antics of Ted Cruz and others by giving in would be devastating.    Obama might just as well go on permanent vacation for the next 3 years.   He will be able to get nothing done.

I say Stand Firm.   Let them take the blame.   Then start over with budget negotiations.   It will hurt for a while, but in the long run it will be better.