Friday, January 22, 2010

End Senate Minority Rule!!

If it is true.... and it was at the least a major deciding factor.... that it was the proposed health care legislation that bloodied the tide in blue Massachusetts in last Tuesday's election.

That put an ex-nude-model conservative who vowed to defeat that legislation into the Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, whose lifelong crusade was affordable health care for all... then there is only one place to point the finger for that defeat.

Harry Reid. The let's-make-a-deal Democratic Senate Leader and the 60th vote rule.

Oh, there were many other factors in play. The all-out court press of the insurance company lobbyists who spread the green around to sway legislators and confuse the issue for voters, for one. And, the health care legislation was complicated and confusing.... until Reid and the Senate extortionists gave it a focus.

A deciding factor.

Thanks to the blackmailing, underhanded and downright unethical behavior of two Senators, and the complicity of desperation by Reid, the voters saw a mugging of the taxpayers, and they revolted.

Who could miss Independent Senator Joe Lieberman's holdup of this legislation. He had loudly proclaimed just months earlier that parts of the health care bill should be an extension of the already functioning Medicare program. But, when this was introduced into the bill, he withheld his needed 60th vote until it was stricken. With Joe, what you hear is not what he means. Don't forget, he's a Senator from Connecticut, the insurance-capitol-of-the-world Connecticut.

That was bad enough. And voters surely took notice, but then perhaps dismissed it as Joe being Joe.... which isn't a compliment.

The brazen holdup that finally soured the Massachusetts voters came from the heartland, from Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson. His 60th vote holdout started as a right-to-life roadblock that quickly morphed into Nebraska being granted certain Medicare benefits free, forever.

Nelson actually stopped the health care legislation train and told the conductor if he didn't give everyone on the train from Nebraska a free Medicare ride FOREVER he would derail it. And, conductor Reid punched Nelson's ticket. There was a national gasp.

The country, even Nebraska, was up in arms over this, disgusted is perhaps a better word. And this desperation on the part of the Democratic leadership in Congress to make any concession to pass the legislation, and President Obama's reluctance to wade into the issue and actually take charge, showed the voters of Massachusetts all too clearly that no one knew where this train was going. They wanted off.

Tuesday, Massachusetts Democrats and Independents sent the message loud and clear.... they didn't like the direction the Obama-Reid train was taking them. Free rides for some while keeping others hostage was a no-go. They cancelled the Democrats 60th vote.

So now the Democrats no longer have the filibuster-breaking 60th vote they need to pass almost anything. Not that they ever did, having to depend on the likes of Lieberman and Nelson, but the appearance at least was there. But that wasn't even the worst thing that happened to the Democrats, and more importantly the nation, this week.

While the nation's attention was diverted by the Massachusetts train wreck, the Supreme Court struck down the concept of one-man-one-vote democracy.

The Supremes reached into the bedrock of our republic and tore apart its foundation as violently, and uncaringly, as the mind-numbing Haiti earthquake disaster. The shock waves will crumble our voting booths into a rubble of irrelevance.

The Supreme Court decided Thursday that soul-less, vote-less, non-citizen, steel and paper corporations are people, protected by the Constitution's freedom-of-speech guarantee. So, Wall Street, banks, insurance companies, oil companies... all those wonderful folks who brought you our budget-busting recession and more, now have the right to spend all they want on elections.

As David D. Kirkpatrick said today in The New York Times, "Lobbyists Get Potent Weapon in Campaign Finance Ruling" ....... "The Supreme Court has handed lobbyists a new weapon. A lobbyist can now tell any elected official that if you vote wrong, my company, labor union or interest group will spend unlimited sums explicitly advertising against your re-election."

All legislators will be the lackeys of special interests. The monied carriage-class will rule, and the rest of us.... the poor, sick and plain ignored.... will just pay for their ride.

Obama did show some outrage, stating after the decision that it's “a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics,” while Democrats vowed to push legislation to install new spending limits in time for the fall campaign. Predictably, Republicans disputed the partisan impact of the Supreme's decision.

So.... will it take 60 Senate votes to put the brakes on the political spending of the newest class of citizen.... corporations? If so, forget it. Nothing will get done for flesh-and-blood citizens until the Senate reinstates the "majority rule" conduct of business, and derails the current "minority can stop anything" obstructionism.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Obama: Nix Prompter Pacifier

Where is the passionate Barack Obama, the "hope" of our young century, and troubled country?

As Michael Gerson points out in The Washington Post today in "Where has Obama's inspiring oratory gone?"....."In the most unexpected development of his presidency, what was once universally recognized as Obama's greatest political strength -- his oratory -- now seems a serious weakness."

And how! For all of his formidable brainpower, high ideals and polished speech-craft, he seems as flat as the national pocketbook, or the prompters he robotically ping-pongs like an idea-famished pol.

I'm sorry, but today I listened to him "deliver" the White House remarks on Haiti's horrific earthquake, a disaster that may claim hundreds of thousands of lives.... right at our backdoor! His demeanor was proper and bloodless. Space Odyssey 2001's Hal had more emotional range.

Please.... will someone tell him his prompter-pacifier is unseemly.... especially when talking about the loss of countless lives, what amounts to the demise of Port-au-Prince, a city of over 2 million suffering souls. I wonder if he would have stood in the rubble of 9/11 flanked by his prompters, his head swinging to and fro before his begrimed audience, delivering a canned white paper.

It's seeming more likely every day that what Obama really lacks is confidence. The confidence to say what he thinks, to even.... gasp.... make a rhetorical mistake. Obama...unless you aspire to be a one-termer, it's time to take off the training wheels. When all hell breaks loose, answer swiftly, boldly and prompterlessly!