Monday, September 30, 2013

Washington Watch: "September 30, 2013"

September 30, 2013 is an important date for the nation's Congressional representatives. The end-of-the-quarter, it also signals the Federal Election Commission (FEC) deadline for collecting contributions for the quarter.  The books close on September 30 as far as donations for the quarter.

This year, with a government shutdown and the implementation of Obamacare on the line, both parties are pressing hard for contributions from their supporters to 'stop' the other side. The emails are flying and I imagine contributions are pouring in. Will there be a deal before midnight? Doubt it.

In the meantime, John Boehner will surely go down as the worst Speaker of the House EVER! He can't handle the tantrums from the right who want to take the 'sail' out of Obamacare on October 1. More antics. Still waiting on their alternatives for healthcare. No governing. Just more anti-Obamanism.

It is estimated that 48 million people are uninsured in America. You think they are going to ignore Obamacare?

Obamacare is law and the GOP knows that as people sign up...for some, getting healthcare for the first time in will be harder to stop the momentum. And, because they chose to call it Obamacare, citizens will always know it was President Obama who brought healthcare for all.

The right-wing will continue the fight to repeal it. It won't happen during Obama's presidency, unless they get enough votes (pickup the Senate and enough Districts in 2014) to override a veto. Not likely. Possible, but not likely.

But for now -- next will come the debt-ceiling vote. More theatrics coming from those who cannot accept the results of the November 2012 election.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Washington Watch: "Breaking Bad"

Speaker of the House
Rep. John A. Boehner [R-OH]
The GOP House leaders are calling it their line-in-the-sand, others are calling it the line-to-lunacy.  The tea party-led House voted YET again to shut-down (or defund this time) Obamacare....and not only that, they tied it into the funding to keep the government going.

There are those who get so high on their pedestal that the oxygen doesn't reach their brain. Others dislike the President SO MUCH that they even embrace the Russian leader. Americans.

History will not bode well for these obstructionists whose sole purpose is to derail a Presidency. They have not been pro-active at all. Only contrary.

Obamacare (they named it as a tactic to defeat his bid for a second term; He embraced the name) -- is LAW. Passed by both Houses of Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Granted...the Administration could be doing a better (and faster) job of rolling it out, however many people with pre-existing conditions are looking forward to it. As are the millions of uninsured and others who are paying exorbitant rates for health care.

Is it perfect? Probably not. But what is the GOP proposing??? This seems to be more of their anti-Obamanism. The President summed it up today at a speech in Missouri:
"The debate that's going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping middle-class families," Obama said. "They're focused on politics. They're focused on trying to mess with me. They're not focused on you."
Even if the goal is purely to make Obama look bad (as unworthy as this is) -- the question must be asked --do the ends justify the means? Bringing government to its knees, destroying the creditworthiness of the nation?

No...the ends do not justify the means more so than the actions of a dying teacher who becomes a drug lord to provide for his family in the TV show Breaking Bad.

This move by the right-led GOP is just plain BAD!

Oh Yeah -- they also cut food stamp funding this week.

A better story: The President and the Lady

President Barack Obama writes a school excuse note for Alanah Poullard, 5, 
while visiting with Wounded Warriors and their families in the East Room 
during their tour of the White House, Sept. 19, 2013.
 Alanah asked for a note to show her kindergarten teacher. 
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Washington Watch: "The Syrian Two-Step"

President Barack Obama talks with advisors in the Oval Office, Sept. 10, 2013.
 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Syrian Stepping

Putin is at Step Five.

America -- the media, most of the politicians, and the people, are at Step Two.

Hopefully, the Administration is at Step 7 or higher. 

Some of you get what I am saying here. Certainly, chess players get it. And checkers players.  And maybe even tic-tac-toe players.

America has been baited into a "needed" response. (Or was Assad baited? Is he the pawn?)

The first delay -- going to Congress (also the right thing to do, whether the President takes their advice or not), was necessary because it would not have been good to have American military strikes while attending the G-20.

And this week...with September 11, would not be good for an American military strike. Delay our side.

Putin's move -- Syria turning in the weapons for international control and destruction.(Maybe). A delay on their side?

What is the endgame?

Again...hopefully the smart people in the Administration, and the military, are making the right moves. I trust that they are.

I think it is good the American people are paying attention to the Syrian situation...even if we can't be sure what is really going on. This is the legacy from Iraq.

Next move?

In the Meantime:

The Government will shut down on September 30th if no budget agreement is reached. (Remember the Sequester?) The GOP wants to vote YET AGAIN to stop Obamacare.

Think Progress:  The Who’s Who Of The Looming Government Shutdown 
ANNIE-ROSE STRASSER ON AUGUST 16, 2013  From the article:

"There is no middle ground for those who want to shut down the government over Obamacare. They want the health law defunded and they don’t care what it takes, and so they have said they will not sign onto a new continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government if it includes funds for Obamacare. In order for the government to remain funded, Congress must pass a CR by September 30."
What will happen with Immigration Reform?

policymic:  Immigration Reform 2013: Why Syria Means It's the Wrong Time
PAUL STERN, SEPTEMBER 10, 2013  From the article:
".... immigration reform may unfortunately languish on the steps of the House until next year, the all-important midterm election year. While this does not spell the absolute end, many representatives will be returning to their campaign trails, forgoing the compromise necessary to pass provisions crucial to the reform bill such as the pathway to citizenship. Instead, the House majority will spend the year playing party politics, focusing on re-election instead of legislating."

There's more as listed by Ms. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC in her article: Welcome back Congress. Here’s your to-do list. She sums it up:
"For a group of men and women notorious for gridlock and inaction, Congress has a lot on its plate when it returns to session Sept. 9 after a five-week recess. Even before President Obama began aggressively lobbying for congressional approval to launch military strikes in Syria, the list of urgent legislative problems was long and daunting, which means some things have dropped off the radar."

And, oh yeah -- What about jobs and the economy????

Remembering the victims of 9-11

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Washington Watch: The Dream & The Wake-Up

This past week in Washington there were debates on if Dr. King's dream of 50 years ago has been realized, while at the same time, the Administration considered appropriate measures for atrocities in Syria.

What Dream?

The naysayers were out this past week as the country remembered the March on Washington fifty years ago. As dignitaries, including the President, spoke at the site of King's 'I Have a Dream' speech, many questioned: "Has the dream been realized?"

It is easy to lament the many challenges facing the nation, in particular people of color, and specifically African-Americans.

I myself questioned our progress a few weeks ago with a blog entitled  "After Trayvon Does it Matter?"  I related the growing list of indignities facing black America and how we have gone backward in many ways -- especially when we look at our disappearing middle-class. Yet, I concluded that "giving-up is not an option!" This is what I said and I still feel this way:

"In spite of....and BECAUSE of what we as African-Americans face in today's America --giving up is not an option. Here is why:
-If men, women, and children brought here in chains, and treated as chattel, did not give up their fight for dignity, neither will we.
-If the civil rights workers who were spat on, beaten, jailed, and killed so that we could have the right to vote, did not give up their fight for equality, neither will we.
-If the masses who spent MANY hours in line to vote in Florida in 2012, in spite of those who try to take away our voting privileges...well they did not give up. Even when they were told Barack Obama had won, they still stood in line to cast their ballot. They did not give up their right to vote, neither will we.
We will not give up.For our future....For our children...For Trayvon Martin...We will not give up on the promise of America."

But, back to "The Dream."  I did not have the honor of knowing Dr. King, but I have to believe that fifty years later, having an African-American LEADER OF THE FREE African-American as PRESIDENT of America...standing there honoring your speech from 50 years ago...well, think about it... Personally, I think he would be pleased....and he would Thank God! 

Yes...of course there is still much to be done...and we cannot be complacent because rights given by man can be taken away by man. We are human...there will always be wars, discrimination, and strife. is important to take a moment to recognize significant achievements in our advancement as a country. 

I often think of the elderly black folk....some in wheelchairs and walkers, braving the EXTREME cold and crowds to see in-person the swearing-in of Barack Obama as President.  Especially at the first inauguration. (The second inauguration also had a good number of older Americans...probably those who didn't make the first one and said "I'm not missing this one.")

I remember thinking that some of the elders were there at great risk to their personal health. I heard that many traveled great distances to be there. Some were frail and shivering, but THEY SAW A BLACK MAN BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in their lifetime. It was a significant life event for them. (And me). They said, "health be damned, I'm going!"

Now, there are those on the left and right who want to diminish the President's paint him as lacking in many ways. On the left we find 'pundits' and 'leaders' who are jealous, and on the right we find those who seek to humiliate and tear-down the President at every turn.

It is perfectly acceptable not to agree with Barack Obama's policies. And...we must question him and hold him accountable as we would any political leader. HOWEVER...we can never think he is "less than" because he is African-American. He is intelligent, articulate, and QUALIFIED to be our leader.

The realization of King's legacy is that Obama is not the President of Black America....he is the President of ALL of America. If we are looking for problems to be solved within our communities we will have to look among ourselves and also start making some demands of our community and political leaders. And we MUST protect our vote.

Again -- Obama leads ALL of America. He is African-American but he is not the 'black' president. He is the President of the United States of America.....same as Washington, Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, etc.

This is what King fought for...unimaginable in 1963.... and we should not let it be diminished.

The Syrian Strategy?

The White House has made the decision that the government of Syria must be punished for the use of chemical agents against civilians. There are many questions to be answered, including:

Why would Assad authorize the use of these weapons knowing the possible repercussions? Was it a game of dare? Is his side loosing the civil war and needing to take extreme measures? Did the rebels stage the attack to pull America into the conflict? Are other countries involved? And...what is their endgame, and more importantly...what is our end game?

Thankfully, the President remembered "who he is" and decided to take the case for a military strike to Congress, essentially saying...'okay Congress, pull up your diapers and vote!'

The GOP-led House, and many of their fellow Republicans in the Senate, have made a circus of Congress the past few years by being against virtually ANYTHING the Administration proposes! Will they put the country first this time and make their decision based on the case the Administration makes for striking Syria? Or, are they more concerned with trying to embarrass Obama...their strategy the past five years.

Questions must be asked of the Administration by Congress and the American people. In particular... what will the airstrikes accomplish? We paraphrase the Powell Doctrine (General Colin Powell)..."if you break it, you own it."

I trust the Administration will indeed make the case for action to prevent further atrocities such as this.