Friday, March 08, 2013
What If Party Leadership Seen as the “Old Guard” Can No Longer Maintain Partisanship? - Reid fails to Stop Paul Filibuster, McCain, and Graham blast Paul– Out of Touch and Defensive
John McCain, Graham and Kerry - the Old Guard - image Washington Times
The Jr. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has opened Pandora’s Box with his 13 hour filibuster based on the Administration’s vagaries on the use of drones against U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Prior to the beginning of his epic filibuster, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, did his absolute best to limit the amount of time Senator Paul would be able to speak on the floor, which was quickly shut down. One would think it was a majority of those maligned Republican’s, however, in review of the 15 hour plus video available on C-Span, it appears to have been mutual consent. During the filibuster, Paul was supported by a few Constitutionalist – including Ted Cruz of Texas, Mark Rubio of Florida and Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden, a Democrat. After the 9th hour, a call went out from the RNC chair to the Republican Senators to get to the senate to show support to Paul. A filibuster of this length has not been undertaken in recent history, and with much emphasis on the basics of civics and the constitution, the public watching the proceedings were treated to a process that has not been seen in decades. In fact, Paul’s 13 hour filibuster, was the 9th longest in history, the next took place in 1954, a 24 plus hour filibuster by Sr. Strom Thurman. In 2010, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders filibustered for 8 plus hours to stall a deal that extended the Bush Tax Cuts (WISTV.com). Therefore, it is a tool used by both sides of the aisle, but rarely and only those who, agree or not ideologically, are committed to their cause. The rigors of the filibuster demand the individual not leave their post in the Senate, they must remain standing throughout. They can stop talking as long as someone asks them a question, of some length to give them a break.
As of yesterday afternoon, the general public was so engaged with the process that the Twitter hashtag, #standwithrand, which began during the filibuster, was still trending at #1 with millions joining, and millions of diverse political backgrounds at that. Aside from the content, it was a first for so many who had never thought to turn to CSpan and watch an event that is normally seen as less than interesting, and found themselves wrapped up in civics!
There were those Senior Members of the Senate, specifically the Republican Old Guard, that did not show up to speak on the floor, rather, heavily criticized Paul pronouncing his sincere filibuster as: “pull(ing) political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.”(Politico). Apparently, McCain was not aware that some of Twitter’s newest members were a tad older, as Senator Cruz read the tweets as part of the process, one from a “grandmother who learned how to tweet in order to “stand with rand”. Also of note, those Senators who stood back are also seen by the base of the party as centered more on their own place in the grand scheme of all things Washington than in the actual function of the job their constituents hired them to do. Names that come quickly to mind, Collins, McCain, Graham. Moreover, it would behoove the Republican base if they did have a bunch of “libertarian college students” to help them win an election once in a while. It would behoove the parties to have leadership that would support the efforts of one of their colleagues who could also cross party lines, and find support across the aisle.
Unfortunately, with a Senator like Paul, or his Oregonian counterpart Wyden, one finds that, on occasion, there is the ability to have bi-partisanship – especially when the call to arms is from newly minted Senators, rather that those who have sat in the hallowed halls of D.C. for what amounts to decades. It is basically not the concept or the content of what Paul accomplished in his pushing the White House to respond to his question in a most grudging letter – affirming that the President did not have the authority to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. This was of import in several ways. One it shone a light on the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens denied due process, two, the fact that drone attacks on U.S. citizens within the boundaries of the country were even considered, and three, that the separation of powers was neatly put back in some order.
Paul did more in his 13 hours on the floor than the lot of the aforementioned have done in their rather lengthy careers. Tough.
This brings to mind a host of other options that are available to the people to elect more Rand Paul’s, libertarians, republicans, democrats or progressives, who are relative newcomers to the Senate and go there with passion and conviction representing not the party leadership but the people that sent them. Term limits should be a topic that is on the table, and that has become increasingly clear over the past two decades.
Notes of interest and commentary:
In an interesting piece from NPR on vacancies in the U.S. Federal Courts, as well as other agencies, the blame for the lack of leadership is placed on the Senate Republicans, but stated in this piece that they are constitutionally required to adhere to due diligence. Additionally, the blame is also laid on the President for his recess appointment sand the fact that he has yet to produce nominees. The article also strikes out at the Congers, specifically the Democrat led congress between 2006-2010 that stymied any progress – period. When one understands that the main reasons that nothing happens in both the Senate and the Congress, one looks to the leadership –they are the “old guard”, those who have held onto their “seat” in the peoples house, as a career rather than to serve.
The Washington Post columnist (from a “conservative” point of view) Jennifer Rubin, wrote on the reactions to Paul’s’ successful filibuster, by McCain and company in a slightly different bent. She too asks if there is a changing of the guard, from the McCain’s and Grahams to the younger members, but sees the process of a way in which to politicize – as if what occurred was a political move against the President. Clearly, it was not political in the sense of Republican’s versus Democrats, but in a sense that was purely constitutional. One understands from Senator Paul’s perspective, it would not have mattered if President Obama were a Democrat or Republican, it was Presidential authority, regardless of which party that President preferred. Paul made that clear on more than one occasion. There is a great deal of missing the point, when it comes to new members of the House and the Senate, especially as there is little that the McCain’s, or the Reid’s of the world can do to “reign them in”. They are bi-partisan.
It also makes one wonder, how well the first term Senator from Illinois, now President Obama, would have fared had he been surrounded by peers that were not as heavily vested in government and power, as some of his advisors. (Specifically the old school, silver spooned crowd.) Perhaps, allowed to go it on his own, he may have had a different result when it came to the economy. Yet, it always appeared, that regardless of intent, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, (then ruling the Senate and the Congress, ran with the old school, the very counterparts to John McCain.
Therefore, watch for those mid-terms and the next general to produce more Rand Paul's, Ted Cruz’s, Ron Wyden’s and those who are eyeing a return to a functional government, albeit one that is diverse. Those who wish to maintain the constant drumbeat of partisanship (and that goes for the 501C’s, and other major dividers) may find themselves out on the street.
It is also interesting to note that the U.S. media, lost in its partisanship, and relationship with the current administration, was given the letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senator Rand Paul, prior to Paul’s receiving the latter. This leads many to agree with Founders, who questioned the inclusion of a free press in the Bill of rights. It was exactly this scenario that concerned those men who wrote the Constitution, a press that would do the bidding, rather that act as a watchdog, for any administration or political ideology.
Therefore, as the new members are apparently fearless when it comes to defending the Constriction, one might expect a return to sanity in that August Boyd, if, there is an influx of more like-minded men and women in the next several elections. Look not towards the experienced representative or Senator who has sat on the floor on the Congress or Senate for Decades, rather the novice, regardless of political party, who is intent on serving the public. That should also ring true for the Office of the President. One is already hearing old “political dynasty” names being bandied about as potential 2016 candidates. It goes without saying that this propagates the myth that there are true classes in this nation. The elites, who feel the need to protect the “masses”, while lining the family pockets. Although the individual’s intent might be contrary to this thesis, it goes without saying that a return to the citizen holding office, rather than the elites would better serve the nation.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Senator Rand Paul – Historic Defense of Civil Liberties – Spans Party Lines – Lessons in Civics - #Standwithrand Still Trending on Twitter
The Man one might want to Stand With - Senator Rand Paul - image Reuters via Breitbart
It goes without saying, that far too many American’s have had no education as to basic civics, especially how our government and the separation of powers brilliantly installed in the U.S. Constitution provide the people with a safety net against that government. Today, most people in this country, otherwise known as “low information voters”, have a concept of the body politic that is more “entertainment”, by which, a politician becomes a “rock-star”, rather than a servant of the people. It also goes without saying that those who do serve, from the Congress, to the Senate to the Office of the President, deserve the nations respect; for these Offices, and the intent to serve, are not undertaken lightly. The people and those that serve may have differing opinions; however, the entire body politic in these United States is one that is built on laws and oversight. In 1939, a feature film, ”Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”, became one of the most enduring films of our time. The Oscar winning film is described in brief: “A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.” (Watch Trailer with links to film at www.imdb.com. It is the story of the filibuster and how that tool is used to bring attention of a situation viewed as untenable to the general population, and to hopefully, change a wrong to a right.
This was a fictional piece, yet, it is doubtful that many who are over the age of 50 have not seen the film at some point in their lives. It was a rare occurrence indeed, when on March 6, 2013, the nation was treated to the “real deal”. Senator Rand Paul, (R-KY), stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke for almost 14 hours. As one watching C-Span, desperately trying to stay awake to watch this event continue, the film from 1939 came to mind. Obviously, Paul is not naive when it comes to the ways of the world, nor the U.S. Constitution which he swore to uphold, and to watch as the hours wore on, his ability to maintain a clear, concise message, and stand firm in his convictions, was truly inspiring. In brief, the Administration (White House and its various agencies) has considered the use of drones (a weapon) against individuals whom they feel might be a threat to the nation. These individuals would be U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. The law of the land allows all U.S. citizens due process, and obviously, if one were thought to be an enemy of the State (with no clear indication of what the criteria would be for such a finding), the U.S. government would have the ability to blow them to smithereens, whether they were in their swimming pool, a coffee house, the grocery store, etc. These weapons are used in the theatre of war, to protect our armed forces, and there has been the consequence of unavoidable civilian deaths. In the theatre of war, it is an unfortunate expectation. However, it should not be an expectation at all in the confines of the boundaries of the United Sates of America. Rand Paul was asking the Administration (Attorney General, Eric Holder) if they felt the President had the authority to use drones as describe on American Citizens. The answers were vague in the extreme, thus Senator Paul took to the floor and spoke for thirteen hours.
At first, the Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid attempted to limit the ability of Senator Paul to speak – He failed. Rand Paul did not do this alone for 13 hours. In the process of the filibuster, one might not yield the floor (keep the discussion alive) and entertain a question from a college (another Senator). At the early hours, it was Sr. Ted Cruz of Texas, who stood to give Senator Paul a respite from standing and speaking, with authority on the subject at hand. Senator Mike Lee entered and, as a Constitutional Authority, joined in supporting Paul’s filibuster. Democrat Senator, Ron Wuyden of Oregon, joined in support. (Mediate.com) There was a dinner at the White House, with the majority of the Republican Senators’ in attendance, several of those who attended the dinner, apparently felt compelled to join Paul on the Floor, including the senior senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell. Senator Dick Durbin came to the floor to agree on principle with Senator Paul, but compared the use of drones on Ben Ladin, to the potential to use drones on American Citizens, he also suggested that this type of debate take place within Committee, instead of a forum that allowed the public to watch the proceedings.
What took place as a rare event, as this body, the Senate, does little in the way of protecting the interests of the American people. It is not for lack of trying, however, these Senators, regardless of party affiliation are often found blocked by the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who holds the power to bring a bill (law) to the floor for a vote – or not. He is the main reason that the U.S. has had no budget since 2009, using “continuing resolutions” instead to keep from confining the Federal government to do what ordinary households must do – stick to a budget. This government is run, and operates, of course, with monies supplied by the very same ordinary households.
To watch part or all of these proceedings, C-Span has the entire video – which is embedded below. What the Senator was requesting was simple. A statement from the Administration noting yes, or no, regarding whether they (the Administration) believed the President has the authority to use drones to kill American Citizens within the boundaries of the United States – a simple Yes or No response would have ended the filibuster in hour 1.
It was not forthcoming.
Thus the almost 13 hour (12 hours and 54 minute) debate on the Senate Floor.
This is the type of occurrence that truly makes one feel that this is truly the best nation on earth in which to reside.
The twitter hashtag #standwithrand maintains the top trending topic on Twitter (as of 6:22 am est) (Twitter.com) When “Code Pink” #standswithrand, the issue is crossing ideological lines, and is one in which the entire nation should be vested (as is the world.)
The entire filibuster, video via Cspan.org.
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Mass. GOP Senate Primary - Gabriel Gomez Receives National Press, Local Right-Wing Rants on Social Issues – The Perfect Candidate?
The MA Senate GOP Primary Candidates: Gomez, Sullivan, Winslow - image from Springfield Republican, MassLive
Massachusetts needs to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry’s appointment as Secretary of State, a primary set for April 30th, with a general election June 25th, sees, what is referred to as a “crowded field” of Republican’s. The State GOP, aiming to be more grassroots, held a straw-poll at a nearby yacht club, which saw Dan Winslow, a State Representative, win the nod, followed by Gabriel Gomez, and in third, former U.S. Attorney (noted as: former George W. Bush official in referenced article). (The Hill Blog) Of course, straw polls, being what they are, are hardly indicative (i.e. Ron Paul, Michelle Bachmann) of what may or may not take place in an actual GOP primary in the State of Massachusetts.
What has piqued this bloggers interest in this particular candidate are several items that have stood out over the past few weeks. First, the candidate himself: Gomez is a first generation American, Hispanic, a former Navy Seal, a businessman in Boston, and he is not a professional Politician (the only one if the field of 5 (combined Democrat and Republicans) in the mix). Secondly, the national media has picked up on Gomez, from the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned in notes on candidates yesterday, and now the Weekly Standard, a conservative publication who was one of the first to push for Scott Brown’s run is highlighting Gomez in multiple articles, including one comparing him to Scott Brown. Gomez is not a Scott Brown, as Brown had been involved in the MA State Senate, and Gomez, has not held an elected office. Further, his positions on social issues are, in a word, sane – He is personally pro-life, but is letting sleeping dogs lie with Roe vs. Wade, and he is not jumping on board the Anti-Gay Marriage platform. This has the rightwing in MA going someone ballistic, at Red Mass Group. Apparently, Gomez is smart enough to know that his position on either of these issues is a moot point, and if he should he change his position to fit that of the fringe- it is the kiss of death in MA politics, and most likely anywhere else in the Northeast. The Problem with values or issues based drum-bangers' is that they muddy the water – the fact is that a U.S. Senator will have no say in the fact that Massachusetts Law supports Gay Marriage, and will also have no say in overturning Roe vs. Wade. Those who use these issues, on both sides of the body politic, are doing so for personal gain only- and have no intention of solving the “problem” – evidence: Roe Vs. Wade was decided in 1973 (Cornell). Since that decision allowing abortions in all 50 states (prior to that it was a State Issue – whereby some states allowed, while others did not) the White House has been graced by both Republicans (notably, Reagan, Bush and Bush) and Democrats (Carter, Clinton, Obama), the House and Senate have changed party hands several times, and on more than one occasion, the Republicans had total control, so did the Democrats – yet – nothing changed, even under the optimum conditions for change to occur. Therefore this issue, and the Gay Marriage Issue, are personal choices, dictated by laws, which the value voter cannot (unless there is a shift towards a theocracy and that is not going to happen), cannot solve.
There is, of course, more criticism, but that is the way with primaries, example: Markey and Lynch, running on the Democrat Ticket are taking a few pot shots. (Or their supporters are which is more to the point.)
Gomez is not shy about reaching out to the growing Hispanic population in Massachusetts – who, as noted in the Weekly Standard piece, overwhelmingly voted for Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown in the general election – 4 to 1. Although hi bi-lingual ability somehow irked the Boston Globe who’s opinion piece suggested that the tactic of using one’s ability to speak in Spanish, is somehow politically divisive! (Boston Globe – Americans Speak Every Language But only English Unites)
What this tells the casual observer is that the GOP has attracted a talented, patriotic conservative who is also from one of the much coveted voting blocs that is normally thought of as “belonging to the Democrat Party”, and, like Rubio, or Cruz, has given the GOP the nod over the DNC – beginning to dispel the myth that the Republican Party only attracts angry old white men. (Look at DNC Leadership and RNC Leadership – and note if there are any differences). He has irked the left, which has caused a position change to English only, he has irritated the rightwing, and he is getting national attention, which will translate into campaign funds. He is personable, he hit the ground running, and he appears to be able to go the distance. If, and the big if, the primary attracts independents that will switch affiliation and care enough to vote in the primary.
In a State that is dominated by Democrats, with a serious ground game (trolling for votes in nursing homes, and having polling stations conveniently parked at Senior Centers, with a 13 hour time frame to pull out an extra 30,000 voters), it is the candidate that can overcome the 36% Democrat Base, and the 10% of Independents that lean Democrat, to pull off a special election. The candidate that wins the GOP Primary must face that machine. As of now, it is difficult to say if this is even possible – Unless there is a candidate who is receiving national attention in a big way, brining in not only cash but ground support in order to get the message across, and not cave in to the right or the left of Massachusetts politics, but stand steady in the middle. If anyone truly believes that Pro-Life - Winslow, or U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush, Michael Sullivan can pull off a general after winning a primary, then they are, in this opinion, sadly mistaken. Granted, Gomez is untested, however, that adds, not detracts from his chances in a climate that is still anti-Bush – and growing more anti-Government by the day.
If the later does not occur, one can count on Markey or Lynch going to the Senate. (And in that Scenario, if one is a Democrat (not a Progressive) one might want to consider voting for Lynch. (Lynch is running as a populist, man of the people, and middle class, union guy – versus Markey who has been endorsed by Barney Frank.) Side note from historical perspective: Although Gomez identifies himself as a “New Republican” – he is actually a pre-1960’s Republican, the party of choice for Dr. Martin Luther King, and others who understood that those who initialized Emancipation were not Democrats.
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Massachusetts Special Senate Election – Five Candidates in Primary for Open Senate Seat – Primary Date: April 30th, 2013 – Election: Tuesday, June 25th
Gabriel Gomez, running for U.S. Senate in MA - photo from SF Gate with article and Photo slide show GOP Senate Hopeful Gomez takes to campaign trail
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will hold a special election to replace former Senator John Kerry on June 25, 2013. There are five candidates that have submitted signatures for the ballot, three Republicans, Gabriel Gomez, Michael Sullivan and Daniel Winslow, and two Democrats, Congressman Ed Markey and Congressman Stephen Lynch. Should either of the Democrat contenders win the Special Election, the event will trigger another special election to replace a U.S. Congressional Representative.
The primary will be held on the 30th of April with the winners of the respective political parties competing in the election on Tuesday, June 25th. The last date to register to vote in this election is June 5th, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website.
The Candidates in Brief:
Gabriel Gomez, first generation American, former Navy Seal and businessman – non-politician: Website: www.gomezforma.com
Michael Sullivan, former U.S. Attorney.(Boston.com) – No Website
Daniel Winslow, a Massachusetts State Representative, (view State Profile). – Website: www.danwinslow.com
Stephen Lynch, U.S. Congressman, serving in the Congress since 2001, prior to that he was a State Representative. Voting record in Congress Available at: govtrack.us Campaign Website: www.stephenlynch.com
Ed Markey, U.S. Congressman, serving since 1975. Voting record is available at www.govtrack.us. Campaign website: www.edmarkey.com
News and notes:
wwlp, Springfield, on the candidates expected to make the ballot. (Note: Gabriel Gomez had, up to officially announcing his candidacy, had not spoken to the general media).
However, that has not prevented Gomez to be spotlighted outside of Massachusetts: See: GOP Senate Hopeful Gomez Takes to Campaign Trail" (San Francisco Chronicle)
Ed Markey, according to Facebook ads, is endorsed by Barney Frank.
The Huffington Post on Stephen Lynch and his connection to labor, possibly spoiling Markey’s chances in a primary.
It is anticipated that there will be a low turnout for the primary as well as the Special election.
Of the two parties, preferred matchup would be Gomez, due to his issues, smart press releases, and the fact that the day he announced his candidacy he visited the three key areas of MA. In addition, he’s not an entrenched politician, current politician or former politico, someone with fresh perspective. Plus: his compelling narrative as a first generation of Hispanic descent – and Stephen Lynch, serving less time in the U.S. Congress than Markey, Lynch appears to be more in-touch with Massachusetts (see his narrative on website), and has not made a full-time career (yet) out of government compared to Markey (1975 to present in the U.S. House).
Monday, March 04, 2013
What Happened if You Threw a Crisis and Nobody Came? – Democrat’s Have Difficulties in Pushing New Taxes – Perhaps a Look at Sen. Coburn’s Annual Waste Report might the Democrats find some extra cash.
The Waste Book - Sen. Coburn's 2012 analysis of Waste in Federal Spending - Plenty to Cut here! - See last Paragraphs for link to book - image from The Waste Book Sen. Coburn
The Sequestration – what’s in a name and a crisis? Apparently nothing, according to the Hartford Courant’s, Jim Shea. Shea cites a Pew Research Poll suggesting that a mere 25% of the general public followed the “crisis” at all, Further, Shea blames the entire lack of interest on the name of the crisis itself, perhaps something more “catchy” would have moved the entire populace to cry out against budget cuts.
Then again, when the public is aware that the budget is in Trillions of dollars and the cuts under Sequestration amount to $84 Billion, there might just be some disenchantment as far as any real crisis are concerned. The average American is struggling with the rise in the cost of food, and fuel, and are making cuts to manage – the sympathy for the Federal government just does not exist.
Meanwhile, Politico Reports that the Democrats in Washington D.C. are complaining heavily about those darn Republican’s blocking them from creating any new taxes! Apparently, when John Boehner (Republican, Speaker of the House), agreed to a tax increase during the Fiscal Cliff crisis, the Democrat’s assumed every time a crisis is created, they’d get more money from taxes, either through direct taxation or closing loopholes in the tax structure. That failed to occur; all they got out of the fiscal cliff was two months of spending, and a new tax on retirement savings. They expected to get much more in round two of “Blame the Republican’s" in the Sequestration Crisis - expecting a tax increase in order to insure Washington would go on in its usual state of dysfunction.
The only ones reaping any benefits in D.C. appear to be the the D.C. Comics, who also happen to work for the Federal Government – The Washington Post suggests the punch-lines coming from those who may be forced to take an unpaid day or two per week, are laughing through their tears. (Of course, since their salaries are not based on any standard other than Washington’s, there is little sympathy coming from the rest of the nation. Also note there will be no bonuses for the D.C. Federal employees.)
While the rest of us struggle to cover the cost of hamburger and dutifully pay our taxes (to both the Local, State and Federal Governments), Washington D.C. is lamenting the fact that they can’ add more taxes to the economy. If one lives in a State or Commonwealth who is taxing everything that one can imagine, the Federal Government staking claim on what’s left is starting to wear thin.
Perhaps in their next round of looking for ways to cut (besides the FDA, and other agencies that may or may not be noticed), the elimination of duplicate agencies, or a restructuring of how the Federal Government budgets might be in order. At the present time, budget’s are set for the year per department, if it is not entirely spent, even if they have a few million left over – that department might not receive the same amount the following year. So they spend every last dime.
There is one Senator from Oklahoma, who reports on Federal Government waste, (No Kidding!) “The Waste Book”, by Senator Coburn is available here in pdf at www.corburn.senate.gov.
For Dr. Coburn’s (Senator Coburn’s) take on Sequestration visit his website www.corburn.senate.gov/public
Yet, the sky is falling, especially since those Republican’s want to take a mere 80 billion and cut a few programs – one might find a bit more in Coburn’s report.