Posted in Congress, Conservative, Current Events, GOP, Health Care Reform, Health Care Repeal, Healthcare Reform, House of Representatives, News, Politics, Republicans

Futility, Health Care Repeal and Symbolism

How fabulously productive Thursday was on Capitol Hill!

The House spent part of the day reading the Constitution aloud to one another, part of the day dickin’ around and not swearing in two of its new Republican members (Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick decided to skip the ceremony and were instead at a fund raiser), and the rest of the day taking test votes to see if they have enough support to symbolically repeal the health care bill.

Only in Republican-world can people manage to both read and violate the Constitution in a single day.

They must be tired!

I know the year is young, but if this is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a fun ride, folks.

The health care repeal, if passed in the House, truly would only be a symbolic victory for House Repubs.

In other words, it wouldn’t actually result in the repeal of anything at all.

The bill won’t go anywhere beyond the House, as it would never gain enough traction to make it to the Senate floor, where Democrats still hold control.

Even if Senate Republicans could jam the bill down Harry Reid’s throat (and the stars, moons and planets throughout the galaxy somehow find themselves aligned just right, while pigs simultaneously begin flying), and get it passed, Obama would bitch-slap that thing back into Boehner’s wet dreams veto it.

With a quickness.

I get that in an enforceable-law sort of way, this bill is harmless, but still, I find myself scratching my head.

Didn’t the GOP gain control of the House of Representatives in large part by promising to curb all that wasteful spending the Democrats seem to be so addicted to?

Yet they somehow think a symbolic repeal of the health care bill is a responsible thing to do…

… Even as we learn that the price tag for passing this worthless bit of drivel would actually raise the deficit by more than $230 billion over the next 10 years, and add another trillion in national debt in the 20 years following the first 10.

Now look.

I realize the Democrats aren’t exactly known for their sound fiscal policy…

… But last I checked, people were actually getting something out of the hugely expensive decisions the Dems have been making recently.

Yes, “Obamacare” (as the haters say) comes with a high price tag, but once fully implemented, more than 30 million Americans who currently have no health insurance will be covered. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny people coverage based on pre-existing conditions, so on and so forth. The stimulus package, while not nearly as successful as Obama had hoped, did create jobs, and we are now seeing noticeable drops in unemployment numbers.

In what world does spending $230 billion on a symbolic bill actually make sense? Certainly not in the world I live in, where our nation’s deficit is already out of control, unemployment is still too high, and people can’t make their mortgage payments.

House Republicans say that the gesture is the first step in making good on a promise to the American people to repeal health care legislation.

I can’t help but wonder what happened to their promise of fiscal responsibility? Their promise to reign in the oh-so-rampant wasteful spending in Washington?

From my vantage point, the only promise being fulfilled is that of total futility.

Posted in Congress, Current Events, House of Representatives, Immigration, News, Politics, Republicans

Colbert’s Congressional Testimony

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. My passion is politics with a little social justice thrown into the mix, but lately, those topics have become scary.

I love a good political debate. Lately, however, intelligent political discussions are increasingly replaced by fear mongering on the right, by race baiting on the left… The end result being that I stopped following politics altogether. I must confess, for quite a while, Lindsey Lohan’s most recent drug-induced shenanigans, reported by radaronline and TMZ made for more interesting reading than all my old standby favorites (HuffPo, Politico, CNN, FoxNews) on the political front combined.

So…

…What, exactly, awoke the sleeping giant?

While I make no promises that I am awake for good, I can say that today, at least, I simply found myself with something to say.

I recently had the opportunity to witness the “testimony” of Stephen Colbert as he addressed Congress (the House Judiciary Committe’s subcommittee on immigration) regarding the plight of the migrant worker in America. Mr. Colbert showed up in character, speaking as the ultra-conservative, completely unenlightened political pundit we’ve all come to know from his Comedy Central Show, “The Colbert Report”.

Generally speaking, I am a fan of “The Colbert Report”. I find it absolutely hilarious. For those that are not aware, Stephen Colbert pokes fun at conservatives by pretending to be a conservative, using ridiculous, outrageous arguments to boost popular conservative ideologies. Colbert touches on everything from racism to gun control, from the war to drugs, and even broadcast a show recently from Iraq. Most recently, he has taken on immigration.

Colbert’s message is a good one. He understands that the food supply in this country truly relies on undocumented migrant workers. Immigrants are not stealing American jobs, as many who fear the brown people would have you believe.

In fact, an organization called “Take Our Jobs” demonstrates this fact. Through its website, powered by the United Farm Workers (UFW), the “Take Our Jobs” initiative attempts to get legal, documented U.S. citizens to apply for farm work. From the site one can apply for farm work, and the UFW is definitely hiring currently. The website has received thousands of hits, a few applications from U.S. Citizens, but not a single candidate has accepted the jobs, once offered.

Much like the UFW, I believe drastic action such as immediate deportation, against undocumented workers is counterproductive, and would certainly cause more problems than it would solve. Any American unable to recognize how heavily we rely on undocumented labor is delusional, to say the least.

It is under this premise that Stephen Colbert appeared in front of the Judiciary Committee, alongside Arturo S.  Rodriguez, president, United Farm Workers.

I appreciate and largely agree with the message…

… I have a hard time supporting the method. For Stephen Colbert to show up in character, essentially putting on a comedy routine for Congress, was a bit of a turn off for me. I think the representatives we have in place are largely ineffective, but I have enough respect for the legislative branch of government itself, that I do not find a Comedy Central skit during session appropriate.

You may view Colbert’s testimony here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMIz73z6Hcg&NR=1

Posted in Barack Obama, Blogging, C-Haze, Comments, Congress, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, Fox News, Healthcare Reform, House of Representatives, Joe the Plumber, Joe Wilson, News, Politics, President, Republicans, Sarah Palin

Representative Wilson Falsely Claims Obama Lied… Will You Stand With Joe?

Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina sure did cause a stink Wednesday evening.

Wilson was the guy who famously hollered, “You lie!” in the middle of the President’s speech about health care reform to the Joint Sessions of Congress Wednesday night. Obama was in the process of addressing a pesky falsehood about the health care bill, one stating that should the legislation pass, illegal immigrants will be offered free, government-sponsored health insurance. Mr. Wilson decided he wasn’t going to let the facts deter him, even though this particular myth has already been debunked by just about everybody.

The current legislation, in each and every version that is being debated, states unequivocally that credits for coverage will not be extended to any persons who are not legally residing in this country. According to Politifact’s Bill Adair, the bill (H.R. 3200),  goes to great lengths to make sure that “illegal immigrants do not get the credits for the health care exchange that would allow them to get free care”.

How ironic that in the process of trying to tell the world that President Obama is a liar, Rep. Wilson was, himself, perpetuating one helluva whopper.

Ah, politics at its finest.

The only reason I stop short of calling Joe Wilson a liar is because I am unsure of his motives. Afterall, I have no way of knowing whether he really believes the nonsense he’s spewing. Nor do I know if he’s consciously spreading false claims, caring not the slightest about honesty and decency, all in an effort to simply keep the bill from passing.

I would argue, however, that it doesn’t matter.

The fact remains that one of South Carolina’s elected officials willfully and knowingly openly disrespected the President of the United States during a formal speech.

This was not some informal townhall gathering in local Mayberry, USA. The yahoos who lack the common decency to respect the President when he is speaking were not supposed to be in attendance Wednesday night. That the people who do not know how to temporarily hold their tongues and allow the Leader of the Free World to speak, uninterrupted, have joined the ranks as politicians- Congressional representatives, for God’s sake- is disheartening. I expect them to behave better than this, even as they oppose the subject that is being spoken of.

Representative Wilson certainly has bad manners.

Politicians, pundits, and talk show hosts alike have ample opportunity twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to express their displeasure on anything and everything. Whether that displeasure stems from the recent actions of the President, fellow politicians, celebrities or just some Joe The Plumber type guy they happened to run into one day, there are plenty of appropriate venues in which to express oneself.

This is the age of technology, after all.

Wilson could have taken his grievance public by putting thinking cap on and writing a blog. He could have written an open letter, printed in any number of news publications, to the President to voice his displeasure. He could have called just about anyone over at Fox News and been welcomed on their airwaves and into our living rooms with open arms. He could have called a press conference to discuss his issues. He could have put a scathing statement expressing his displeasure on his website. Or he could have sent out a mass e-mail telling the thousands of folks who are no doubt on his mailing list exactly how he feels.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, isn’t that what Twitter and Facebook are for? Those two websites have worked wonders for Sarah Palin, after all.

In fact,  not only could he have done all of these things, he could have done them all simultaneously.

Instead, our esteemed member of Congress, hailing from the great state of South Carolina, chose to make an ass out of himself on national television by rudely interrupting the President in a bizarre outburst that truly accomplished nothing more than making him look unhinged.

He has been forced to apologize- twice now- and while Democrats were predictably outraged by Wilson’s actions, even Republicans have soundly given him the ol’ smack upside the head for using such terrible judgment.

It doesn’t appear that his outburst had any sort of negative effect on the speech itself. In fact, early numbers show that after watching Obama speak Wednesday night, Americans are beginning to change their mind about the health care bill.

While health care support was inching up, the President’s approval ratings were doing the same- the President realized a double digit jump, even as Joe Wilson’s popularity plummeted.

In fact, Wilson’s likely opponent in 2010, Rob Miller, raised an astounding $350,000 for his campaign in less than 24 hours after Mr. Wilson’s unfortunate gaffe.

Stepping neatly into the role of victim, Joe Wilson is claiming that he is being punished for speaking out against the “critical issue of healthcare”. He is begging his supporters to send him money, and “Stand with Joe”.

How sad.

Representative Wilson is not in trouble for speaking his mind. He is in trouble for his appalling lack of manners and respect. He is in trouble for lacking the self-control to keep his temper in check while the President of the United States was speaking. Most importantly, it was his own actions, his own words, his own bad timing that got him into trouble. Had he kept his mouth shut for the short time Obama was speaking, it never would have been necessary for him to apologize, or answer calls for his censure to begin with.

Poor Joe.

Posted in C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, George Bush, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, News, Policy, Politics, President, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror

Two Cents, Nancy Pelosi and Torture

I was going to hold off a li’l while before posting my opinion on Nancy Pelosi, and whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the Bush Administration’s use of torture.

Most people seem to have already made up their minds on the matter- even as the majority of the facts remain unknown- and the story is beginning to die out in the news.

Rather than run the risk of posting on an irrelevant topic later (God forbid!), I guess I’ll put my two cents in now.

First of all, I am saddened at how fast so many people- politicians and regular folk alike- jumped to conclusions on this subject, labeling Rep. Pelosi a hypocritical liar before any actual facts could even be substantianted.

I’m not saying she’s not a hypocrite, nor am I saying she isn’t a liar. I’m not even saying she handled herself appropriately with regards to the CIA’s use of waterboarding.

What I’m saying is that we just don’t know.

Not yet, anyway.

I’ve heard Pelosi discussing the CIA briefings she received as a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

These so-called briefings have been a pet peeve of hers for a long time, certainly before this waterboarding controversy ever hit our radar screens.

When Congressional members of the Committee are briefed by Intelligence officials, they are not necessarily given complete or truly accurate information. The CIA (especially, one assumes, during this country’s most dangerous and dishonest administration) simply is not held accountable for briefing Intelligence Committee members with complete information.

Once the oft-incomplete briefing is held, the members of the committee are not allowed to ask questions for clarification purposes or to be given more information. In addition, they are not allowed to discuss the briefing with anyone else- including their own attorneys or staff members.

Pelosi isn’t saying the CIA didn’t “brief” her. She’s simply saying they didn’t give her the details that are now public knowledge, and even if they had, she wasn’t allow to do or say anything at all about any of it.

Pelosi is not the only Representative to level this charge. Bob Graham is another vocal critic of the briefings, and in fact backs Rep. Pelosi’s version of events as well.

Considering the CIA’s use of torture is illegal, are we really to believe that the organization, under the command of the likes of Bush and Cheney, really gave Pelosi all the information she would have needed to be able to determine that they were breaking the law?

Of course not.

They wanted to continue torturing people… they’re not going to give one of their adversaries the rope she needs to hang them.

Beyond all the did-she-know-or-didn’t-she-know nonsense, are we not missing the point entirely?

The point, people, is torture.

The illegal, immoral use of torture, and the lies we were all told by the Bush Administration for years, to justify violating the Geneva Conventions, thus making us less safe.

The GOP, it seems, is using Nancy Pelosi to defend such horrors as waterboarding, in effect saying “Pelosi should have stopped us and because she didn’t, we tortured people over and over again”.

As if George Bush, prior to signing all those executive orders was really looking to Pelosi, screaming, “For the love of God!! PLEASE STOP ME!!!”

Give me a break.

All I can say is, any one of you who believe Nancy Pelosi deserves to go down as a result of these briefings, and her alleged inaction as a result, better be supporters of Bush/Cheney and friends being charged with war crimes.

If you aren’t in support of the Bush Administration being taken to task for its lying, torturous, war-time transgressions, then you really need to shut your mouth where Nancy Pelosi is concerned.

For even if she is guilty of every single one of these allegations against her, they still pale in comparison to what our previous Commander-in-Chief was up to.

Posted in C-Haze, Conservative, Current Events, Democrats, House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, News, Newt Gingrich, Politics, Republicans, Torture, War on Terror

Newt Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi and Torture

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi engaged in a “despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort” when claiming to know little about the use of waterboarding and other CIA-sanctioned “enhanced” interrogation methods.

She lied to the House of Representatives and to the American public.

That’s what Newt Gingrich says, anyway, while trying to justify his belief that the House should open an inquiry to investigate her claims that the CIA never briefed her about the use of torture on terror suspects.

The “despicable, dishonest” part of his quote sounded familiar somehow, so I immediately got to researchin’.

Lo’ and behold…

… I found what I was looking for.

How about this

The House ethics committee recommended last night that (the) House Speaker face an unprecedented reprimand from… colleagues after concluding that inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented “intentional or . . . reckless” disregard of House rules.”

Huh.

I bet your average Pelosi-hater will read that and begin foaming at the mouth… nodding their heads in agreement… “Yup-yup, that’s right… they’re gonna recommend a punishment for her? That’s great!!”

… Except that the quote’s not referring to Nancy  Pelosi at all. 

See, Newt Gingrich knows a thing or two about lying to the House of Representatives and unethical behavior himself.

In January of 1997 the House Ethics Committee voted, 7-1, to reprimand then-House Speaker Gingrich, as well as fining him $300,000 in additional sanctions. This action concluded the investigation against Newt Gingrich for illegally using tax-deductible money for political purposes, and for lying to investigators.

The above quote was said about Newt more than 12 years ago.

Gingrich, in fact, holds the distinction of being the first-ever, and to this day, only House Speaker to ever receive an official reprimand by the House of Representatives.

Yeah. I said ever.

In the meantime, he’s going off on Pelosi every chance he gets. He says she only has 2 defenses with regards to this CIA waterboarding fiasco… she was either dishonest or incompetent.

I wonder which defense worked best for him?

The dishonesty defense? Or the incompentence one?

Unfortunately, Gingrich, who never had that much credibility to begin with, simply sounds ridiculous right now.

He’s unusually rabid with regards to Speaker Pelosi, and knowing his own history as Speaker of the House, it simply seems he’s being over-zealous for the wrong reasons.

He just wants someone else to join him in his rare distinction of “Reprimanded House Speaker”.

Poor guy’s gettin’ lonely.

Gingrich himself does not support torture, and for that I congratulate him. His is not a popular position within the Republican Party right now, and I applaud him for taking a stand.

His motivation for calling for Pelosi to be investigated may, perhaps, seem more genuine if he would back off a little from the rabid-attack-dog act, and hold off until all the facts are known.

I sincerely hope the rest of us will do the same, waiting until all the facts come to light before condemning Nancy Pelosi to Newt Gringrich’s ‘hood.

Personally speaking, if it does turn out that Speaker Pelosi knew that our soldiers were torturing people and never did anything to either bring the behavior to light or stop it, and then turned around and went on a media-blitz after Bush left office, condemning him for knowing about torture, supporting torture, and not actively working to end torture, I will not only be calling for her to be reprimanded, but impeached entirely.