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Flip Flopping on Obama: Democrats are Wimps

Posted by: BuellBoy

Written by Dr. Jeff Schweitzer


We fully expect rats to abandon a sinking ship, but even those readily disloyal rodents wait for a leak to spring before contemplating a swim. In contrast, Democrats scramble frantically to jump overboard at the first whiff of a moist towel.

Nowhere was this unpleasant characteristic more glaringly evident than during the health care debate. Because Obama did not deliver the perfect bill instantly, the punditry immediately labeled the president “ineffective” and “passive” and “drifting” and “lost” and horror-of-horrors, “another Jimmy Carter.” Obama was criticized repeatedly because he “leads more from the head than the heart” and “relies more on listening than preaching,” as if those qualities were actually somehow negative. And those were the liberal talking heads. Obama was written off as a loser by his own team simply because he could not change 50 years of social inertia in his first year in office.

George Packer of The New Yorker loudly proclaimed “Obama’s Lost Year.” Robert Parry of The Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel lamented “How Obama Lost His Way.” Piling on were House Democrats who snidely disparaged the health care bill in February, but who now bask in the glory of its passage. These House members quickly toweled off after a premature dunk then tried to pretend they never panicked.

To place this cowardly behavior in context, remember that Republicans stuck stubbornly and loyally to George Bush for eight years in the face of illegal wire taps, disastrous wars, huge deficits, torture, economic collapse, environmental calamity and a terrible butchering of the English language. Democrats did not last eight months before whipping out the chains of self-flagellation because the president did not perform miracles or give us the public option (yet). That easy disloyalty is even more discouraging given that Democrats held the largest majority that either party has held in the Senate since Watergate and a 40-seat majority in the House.

Tackling legislation that has eluded every president for the last five decades is a delicate, tricky, complicated dance of nuance, strategy and hard-ball politics. The best analogy for what Obama has done, and how he achieved victory, is Dwight Eisenhower’s civil rights battle. In fact the recently-passed health care reform bill will likely prove to be similar to early civil rights legislation in many ways — breaking old barriers, creating significant social change, remapping political alliances and creating a better world with legislation that was initially deeply flawed or ineffective. Old Ike fired the first shot of civil rights legislation across the bow of a nation largely hostile to the idea. He faced fierce, nasty and sometimes violent opposition from southern Senators who wielded power far greater than anything we see today.

Consequently the resulting Civil Rights Act of 1957 was weak, flawed and largely impotent but miraculous in its passage nevertheless. The bill became law only after enduring the longest single-senator filibuster in our history. That paragon of racial intolerance, Strom Thurmond, read non-stop for more than 24 hours in a final but ultimately futile attempt to thwart passage. Ironically he read from the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, desecrating both in doing so. As with Obama and health care, what Ike did was important beyond the specific bill that passed; he breached a barrier that seemed impenetrable; he set the stage for progress.

He laid the foundation on which Lyndon Johnson built the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without Eisenhower’s pioneering legislation, no matter how weak, Johnson would have never passed his landmark bill. Likewise, the public option, which is the end-game of true reform, will eventually become law because of the foundation created with this first attempt at health care reform.

In this light, and with this history, we should be embarrassed by our impatience with Obama as he marshaled health care legislation through a reluctant legislature and a populace confused by a vitriolic misinformation campaign. We lost temporal perspective, focusing on the moment to the exclusion of the future. Obama deserved our support and instead we bickered and told tales of woe because the bill was imperfect and not implemented quickly enough for our taste for the immediate. And the opposition nearly slaughtered us because we were unable to unite.

We argued passionately about the minutiae of specific language while the GOP was plotting a grand strategy of our destruction. Our impatience and immaturity aided and abetted that effort. Many Democrats I know and respect simply gave up on the president because he did not produce fast enough or give them everything they wanted. In the euphoria of electing one of our own, we forgot that ideological purity is not a recipe for pragmatic governance. We once again almost let the perfect become the enemy of the good, and were only saved from ourselves by strong leadership which ignored our plaintive and pathetic cries. Thankfully Obama was playing chess while we were trying to figuring out how to go from one to square to another in checkers.

Well, now that the first health care bill has passed we at least learned our lesson, right? One would think, but one would be wrong. The cycle begins anew with Obama’s announcement that he will allow off-shore oil drilling. Oh the humanity!

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “There you go again.” And we’re off and running, so predictably. Here is a typical response to Obama’s announcement, this from Frank Tursi from the North Carolina Coastal Federation: “To garner support for a bill that is intended to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the administration is willing to expand the very substance that causes those emissions in the first place. Pandering for votes that rely on a polluting fuel of the past is not the kind of change many of us expected.”

Sound eerily familiar to the dialogue on health care before the bill passed? Once again we fail to see the big picture and instead focus narrowly on our immediate interests and concerns. Passing meaningful climate change legislation will be every bit as difficult as health care reform, and will require the same type of unpleasant and disconcerting compromise. We must again choose between the easy comfort of ideological purity and the pragmatic necessity of governing if we actually want to do something about global warming. Saving the planet is probably the better option, even if less satisfying emotionally.

Obama did not choose drilling in a vacuum; the decision is part of his broader energy strategy. Yes, we must emphasize conservation and efficiency, and we must do everything possible to promote renewable and clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions. But as we transition to a green economy, we have to keep the lights on and refrigerator running. That is the reality. The energy must come from somewhere, and even as we promote renewables many conservation groups are opposing wind energy, one of the most viable alternatives. Wind turbines disrupt migratory patterns, kill birds and bats and threaten certain species like the sage grouse. So should we support or oppose wind energy?

Something has to give, some compromise must be reached; we live in an imperfect world. Demanding perfection leads to paralysis — and victory for the opposition. Withdrawing support from Obama because he proposes a solution that does not meet our every wish makes little sense, particularly in light of what the other Party has to offer.

By no means do I propose that we blindly accept Obama’s proposed solutions or draft legislation. Debate, modify, argue, disagree: all of that is healthy. But do so knowing that ugly compromise is necessary, and that in a messy democracy no result will be perfectly satisfactory. Democrats need to learn from their Republican colleagues, who seem to know when to argue among themselves and when to coalesce into a unified bloc.

Whenever you feel disappointed or angry at Obama, just close your eyes and think of George W. Bush. Then, rally around, because no matter how imperfect Obama is, he’s better than the alternative.

Dr. Jeff Schweitzer served at the White House during the Clinton Administration as Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Schweitzer was responsible for providing scientific and technological policy advice and analysis for Al Gore, President Clinton and President Clinton’s Science Advisor, and to coordinate the U.S. government’s international science and technology cooperation. He worked with the president’s cabinet and 22 U.S. Government technical agencies, and with countries throughout the world, in a broad range of fields including biology, physics, chemistry, geophysics, agriculture, oceanography and marine sciences. He was instrumental in establishing the permanent Global Forum on Science and Technology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote greater international scientific collaboration.

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Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” Video highlights

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great music and a show of support for the people of Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

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President Obama Signs Legislation

President Obama Signs Legislation Providing Immediate Tax Deductions for Haiti Charitable Contributions January 22, 2010.

President Obama Is Making It Easier for Americans to Support Haiti
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In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, Americans have shown their generosity with millions of dollars in donations. Tonight, President Obama signed a bill into law that makes it easier to give. This legislation will allow taxpayers to receive the tax benefit from donations made to the Haiti effort in this tax season, rather than having to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Specifically, cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution was made on December 31 of last year so that the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. This measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.


Clinton Bush Haiti Relief FundUNICEFAmerican Red Cross

WFP:  World Food ProgrammePartners In Health Oxfam America
Yéle Haiti

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The Moment Ted Kennedy Would Not Want To Lose by Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Senator Ted Kennedy and Victoria Reggie KennedyWashington Post—My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars — and competing interests — were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation’s working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn’t do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn’t arise again for a generation.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

A supporter of health-care legislation holds a portrait of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at a Times Square rally shortly after Kennedy's funeral.

In the early 1970s, Ted worked with the Nixon administration to find consensus on health-care reform. Those efforts broke down in part because the compromise wasn’t ideologically pure enough for some constituency groups. More than 20 years passed before there was another real opportunity for reform, years during which human suffering only increased. Even with the committed leadership of then-President Bill Clinton and his wife, reform was thwarted in the 1990s. As Ted wrote in his memoir, he was deeply disappointed that the Clinton health-care bill did not come to a vote in the full Senate. He believed that senators should have gone on the record, up or down.

Ted often said that we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He also said that it was better to get half a loaf than no loaf at all, especially with so many lives at stake. That’s why, even as he never stopped fighting for comprehensive health-care reform, he also championed incremental but effective reforms such as a Patients’ Bill of Rights, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and COBRA continuation of health coverage.

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Bill Clinton to address Senate Democrats on health care

posted by GeoT

(CNN) — CNN has learned from two senior Democratic sources that former

Pres. Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton will attend the Senate Democrats’ weekly luncheon Tuesday to address the caucus about health care.

A notice obtained by CNN went out to Senate Democrats saying, “All Senators should be aware that former President Clinton will be making a presentation on Health Care at tomorrow’s caucus lunch. Senator Reid has requested that all Democratic Senators
attend.”

A constant refrain from Democratic leaders is that wavering Democrats must heed what they say is a lesson of the Clinton administration: fail to pass a health care reform bill, and congressional Democrats will suffer on Election Day.

With this visit at a critical time for health care in the Senate, the former president will be able to deliver that message in person.

Democrats in the House of Representatives approved a health care bill over the weekend.

Read More Here: cnnlogosmall

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Maine Question 1: We’re Working too Hard to Lose …

posted by GeoT

by Paul Hogarth‚ Nov. 02‚ 2009 SOUTH PORTLAND – I’m writing this on Monday, November 2nd at 2:00 a.m., and will get up early so I will be brief. This weekend has been intense, as myself and Jay Jonah Cash have placed “No on 1” campaign volunteers from New Hampshire, New York, Boston, Vermont and 20 Yale students in a South Portland hotel for our Drive for Equality program. It’s inspiring to see the passion as we sense this election’s national implications for marriage equality. And we’re still on the phones and sending out e-mails, asking folks to make spur-of-the-moment plans to drive up to Maine. Sign up at our website, and we’ll stuff as many committed volunteers into hotel rooms as we can.

We have a better ground game than our opposition, but it will be close. Literally before going to my bedroom for the night, a new poll came out with us down by 4 points. “We expect there to be almost twice as many voters over 65 as young voters,” said the pollsters, “but if that gap narrows so would the vote on Question 1. With a race as close as this, it all comes down to which side can get its people out to the polls. It could go either way depending on who actually shows up to vote.” We’re working too hard to lose this …

Full Article Here:

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Democrats’ Quiet Changes Pile Up

posted by GeoT

WASHINGTON — While President Barack Obama still faces stiff headwinds on a range of major legislation on his agenda, he has been signing into law a slew of smaller initiatives that had gathered dust on the Democratic wish list for years.
Many of the bills had been blocked by Republicans who considered the measures unnecessary expansions of government or too costly. But facing Democratic majorities in Congress, conservatives are picking their battles and in many cases letting the legislation roll through.

Last week, Mr. Obama signed defense-policy legislation that included an unrelated measure widening federal hate-crimes laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identification — 12 years after it was first introduced. The same legislation also tightened the rules of admissible evidence for military commissions, an issue that consumed Congress in debate in 2007 but received almost no attention this go-round.

President Barack Obama signs the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in the Rose Garden of the Whitehouse

Other new measures signed into law since the administration took office, all of which kicked up controversy in past congresses, make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, set aside land in the West from development, give the government the power to regulate tobacco and raise tobacco taxes to expand health insurance for children. Congress and the White House, in the new defense-policy bill, also killed weapons programs that have survived earlier attempts at termination, among them, the F-22 fighter jet, the VH-71 presidential helicopter and the Army’s Future Combat System.

Rob Nabors, the White House’s deputy budget director, called the series of new laws “a very, very quiet but important victory.”

To conservatives, they are Democratic payback to liberal interests. “The left knows what it wants,” says former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “It’s been trying to get it for some time, and this is its moment.”

Cont’d Here:

Please see 44-D blogpost: “What exactly HAS President Obama accomplished in the first 10 months?”

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Krugman: After Reform Passes

posted by GeoT

“The teabaggers have come and gone, as have the cries of “death panels” and the demonstrations by Medicare recipients demanding that the government stay out of health care. And reform is still on track.

By PAUL KRUGMAN NY Times Op-Ed

Krugman, Ph.D.

So, how well will health reform work after it passes?

There’s a part of me that can’t believe I’m asking that question. After all, serious health reform has long seemed like an impossible dream. And it could yet go all wrong.
Right now it looks highly likely that Congress will, indeed, send a health care bill to the president’s desk. Then what?

Conservatives insist (and hope) that reform will fail, and that there will be a huge popular backlash. Some progressives worry that they might be right, that the imperfections of reform — what we’re about to get will be far from ideal — will be so severe as to undermine public support. And many critics complain, with some justice, that the planned reform won’t do much to contain rising costs.

But the experience in Massachusetts, which passed major health reform back in 2006, should dampen conservative hopes and soothe progressive fears.

<snip-

The new health care system will be criticized; people will demand changes and improvements; but only a small minority will want reform reversed.

This thing is going to work.

Read the full story here:

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