Monday, January 29, 2007

State of the Union, Ugh!

Random thoughts on the President's State of the Union. What a mess!

Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority. Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; (such as the national debt, climate change, or the war?) to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

We're not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on (Can the Democrats quote the President on this come the elections in 2008?)-- as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done.

First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. (Certainly, if one makes deep cuts to social programs. Given that the defense department and entitlement programs such as social security and medicare take up roughly 2/3 of the budget, there isn’t much left to balance the budget with but social programs like those designed to protect the environment, better education and improve labor conditions.) What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. (Interesting that Republicans, the “fiscal responsibility” party wern't able to do this over the past six years.) We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (During the Clinton administration the budget actually ran a surplus. The current administration shoots for balancing the budget three years after its out of office. How bold!)

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. (It's odd the President didn’t veto a single one of the earmarks that did make it to his desk! Rejecting those might have been a good first step in bringing the budget into balance and given him some credibility on this matter.)

We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty. Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law. (Republican Tom Tancredo’s Presidential bid just took it in the shorts.)

A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. We have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty, as well, to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. (Really? Where in the Constitution does it place this requirement on the Senate?)

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful (and a few unlawful) and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. (Nearly two thirds through his speech before the President finally mentions the most pressing issue on our time.) Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. (What happened to mission accomplished?)

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence (Can you say code word for civil war?) in its capital.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that's why it's important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. (It appears the president doesn’t recognize the authority of the judicial branch in the fight on terror.)

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Do you feel a draft?)

What the president didn't mention is just as interesting such as drilling in ANWR, New Orleans and its recovery after Katrina and the recent Chinese missile crisis and speaks volumes about his priorities.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Conservatives: Salad Bar Historians

Like many conservative pundits, Dinesh D'Souza appears to be a salad bar historian. He picks only those events that support his hair brained theories, leaving anything that might undermine his argument.

Case in point, D’Souza claims the actions of Presidents Carter and Clinton paved the way for the 9/11 attacks. D’Souza clearly overlooks other seeds to 9/11 such as America’s involvement in the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected Premier and the installation of the dictatorial Shah. D’Souza also disregards America’s secret missile deals with Iran during the 1980’s, and its support of Osama Bin Laden during the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan. As well as, the U.S. pullout of Lebanon after terrorists blew up a military barracks killing 241 American servicemen.

One wonders why D’Souza didn’t include these events in his analysis of 9/11 precursors. Perhaps it’s because all happened under Republican administrations.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Emotional Road to the White House

Ann Coulter appears to have an emotional disorder making her incapable of understanding the feelings of others. Get this, Ann actually believes the buzz around Senator Barack Obama's potential run for the Presidency is really liberal amazement about his ability to “walk and talk.”

Unfortunately for Ann and other conservative Presidential hopefuls, America's feelings toward Obama have nothing to do with his strolling or speaking skills. Rather, citizens are excited about an Obama candidacy because of the inspiring vision he presents for America.

While Ann may have difficulty grasping others emotional response to Obama, hers is obvious. FEAR! For she certainly knows, no current or even potential Republican candidate can hope to match Obama’s capturing of the public’s imagination.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Early Retirement

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) annoucned today he will not seek a third term in office.

The fact that the GOP lost the Senate probably didn't have anything to do with his decision. Yeah right! One can't help but wonder how many more R's (are you reading this Saxby Chamblis, Norm Coleman) will decide to "retire" once their minority status truly sinks in.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What Would Bush Have Done?

On Fox News Sunday, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard asserted that a Democratic resolution opposing the President's escalation in Iraq would be like Democrats passing a resolution opposing further action in Europe right after the D-Day invasion. Kristol simply ignores the countless Republicans who are likely to support this resolution as well. However putting this aside, it's odd Kristol would want to compare Iraq to WWII given the United States defeated much stronger enemies in less time than the current war in Iraq.

Thankfully Roosevelt, rather than Bush, was in command during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or the United States might have been bogged down in a war with Mexico.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lincoln Rolling in his Grave

Recently, conservative mouthpieces such as Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News have begun comparing George Bush to Abraham Lincoln. What a joke! The differences between our first Republican President and the current one are like night and day.

First, Mr. Lincoln’s war, unlike Bush’s incursion into Iraq, was forced upon him. Next, Mr. Lincoln’s policies were designed to hold the union together during a time of national crisis. By comparison Mr. Bush’s plans during an equally trying time appear to be tearing the nation apart. Third, Mr. Lincoln served and fought in our nation’s military. During Vietnam, Mr. Bush got a cozy deployment in the states. Finally, Mr. Lincoln was often referred to as “Honest” Abe. It is unlikely many would hang that nickname upon Mr. Bush and his administration.

Other than being Republicans, there is little these two Presidents share in common and it is doubtful Mr. Lincoln would appreciate the comparison.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Celebrate a Bluetiful Day!

The start of the 110th Congress and the sweeping out of the corrupt and incompetent Republican rule that marked the institution's past 12 years, offers a real opportunity to move progressive legislation. Important issues such as labor, the environment, public health, defense and the economy will now be on the front burner.

However, despite the beating Republicans took in the last election, they will not sit still. Conservatives rightly understand the "game of politics" doesn't end with the last election. Rather, politics is a 24/7, 365 day effort. Backed by their monied interests, conservatives in the next Congress will do everything to obstruct needed reform and shoot for better electoral results in 2008. If the country is to change course, Progressives must counter conservative efforts by consistently contacting their elected officials.

Take a moment to celebrate this historic day by telling the Democratic Congressional leadership (Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121) to move on their campaign promises as quickly as possible.