Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today in Politics- May 27th, 2009

Two big pieces of news left over from yesterday first. No surprises, but President Obama selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be his nominee for the Supreme Court seat being left by Justice David Souter. Let the mud slinging and cable news infighting begin. The best part, of course, is that none of this is really all that big a deal. No one seriously thinks (at least at this point) that Sotomayor isn’t going to get cleared by the Senate. There are a whole bunch of reasons for this: She’s extremely well qualified, she would be the first Hispanic judge on the court ever, she’d only be the third woman on the bench, the fact that the Senate is controlled by the Dems, and probably most importantly, Sotomayor is replacing another left leaning judge. If it was, say, Clarence Thomas who was retriring, the GOP would be throwing everything that it could into this nomination fight. But as it stands the balance of power on the court isn’t really going to shift at all, and as low in the polls as Republicans are, frankly it’s not worth their effort to go into a full throttle fight on this one.

The second big news from yesterday is that in a 6-1 vote, the California Supreme Court upheld the infamous Prop 8, banning future gay marriage but maintaining the legal status of same sex marriages made before the proposition passed. Just asking, but how exactly is this fair or just? Shouldn’t it be either one or the other, not this “Oh, rats, sorry you missed our special deal on gay marriages by 15 minutes, sucks to be you” situation? Of course, it would be political suicide to annul all the marriages preformed before Prop 8, which is why they’re keeping those intact. Gay rights activists are already planning on challenging Prop 8 by creating their own proposition next year.

Ron Paul is back in the news… sort of. Apparently he’s trying to make himself into a kingmaker of sorts, with his new “Ten in ‘10” campaign. His goal is to get ten of his friends into office. We’ll see what happens.

Roland Burris, meanwhile, proves once again that he’s never in the news for a good reason. Tapes from the ex-governor Blagojevich wiretaps have been released, proving that Burris actually offered to give the governor a fundraiser, but debated with himself how to make it look like Burris personally wasn’t involved. Kids, if the governor is accused of selling a senate seat to the highest bidder, then offers it to you for “free”, don’t take him up on it. Seriously.

Obama’s in Vegas, which isn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds, and then he heads to Hollywood, which likewise isn’t nearly as interesting as it sounds. Just in you were wondering.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today in Politics: May 22nd, 2009

Man. What is it with Michael Steele? Today while guest hosting a radio show, Steele had this to say:

"The problem that we have with this president is we don’t know him. He was not vetted, folks... He was not vetted, because the press fell in love with the black man running for the office. 'Oh gee, wouldn’t it be neat to do that? Gee, wouldn’t it make all of our liberal guilt just go away? We can continue to ride around in our limousines and feel so lucky to be alive in an America with a black president.' Okay that’s wonderful, great scenario, nice backdrop. But what does he stand for? What does he believe?"

So, the first black chairman of the RNC is saying that the first black American President won the election because he was black. And apparently two years campaigning was enough time to have him vetted. (Being in Illinois, I didn’t really think he needed vetting, but hey, there are 49 other states.) That’s right kids, liberal guilt over slavery and segregation is why Barack Obama- who was a toddler during the civil rights movement and who is not, in fact, descendent from slaves- was elected president. His policies? His middle-of-the-road approach? His air of civility and pragmatism? Nope. Barack Obama is president because pinko commie liberal socialists thought it would be ‘neat’.

Why does the GOP keep letting Michael Steele near a microphone?

In other news, Liberty University, founded by the late great crazy person Jerry Falwell, has decided to ban the Democratic Party from its halls. A school official released the following statement:

"The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine (supports abortion, federal funding of abortion, advocates repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, promotes the "LGBT" agenda, hate crimes, which include sexual orientation and gender identity, socialism, etc.)."

Personally, I’m shocked to learn there even is a Democratic Party in the halls of Liberty. Jerry Falwell was one messed up dude. And I realize that the GOP isn’t actually the Religious Right, but it’s not as if the Falwell followers out there aren’t a core base of the party. If you’re in charge of expanding the Republican Party, is news like this really helpful from an image stand point?

Despite how it may look, this hasn’t actually been too bad of a week for Team Obama. While there’s been a lot of hoopla over what to do with Guantanamo detainees, the he-said-she-said over Pelosi (which in the last 48 hours is actually starting to break the Speaker’s way), and of course the Cheney vs. Obama speeches (Not that I in any way participated in the hoopla. Of course not.), here’s what the administration has pulled off while everyone was distracted: The meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister went well, with him agreeing to pursue the two-state initiatives; the new fuel efficiency standards that, believe it or not, has made everybody on both sides of the issue happy for now (weird, right?); the signing of four separate bills into law, including the very popular defense contracts and credit card reform bills; and to cap it off, the photo of the week right here.

That was today at commencement at the US Naval Academy. That’s President Obama shaking hands with John McCain IV as he graduates. It’s the little things, you know?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today In Politics: May 21st, 2009

This morning! It’s a battle of champions! A war between titans! Darth Vader takes on Superman! Today in the ring, the ultimate battle for the heart of American, it’s Cheney vs Obama! Almost directly, this time!

But first, some other, what’s it called, news…

Yesterday the RNC finally got the memo that you can not in fact change the name of your opponents team just because you want to. Instead of changing the Democrats name to the Democratic-Socialist Party (which is a different thing altogether- ), they decided to pass a resolution claiming that Democrats are “dedicated to restructuring American society along socialist ideals.” I’d go into one of my traditional what’s-wrong-with-socialism conversations except that the resolution makes no actual sense. Inaccurate statements aside, after the resolution passed, Michael Steele did his traditionally brilliant job of putting his foot in his mouth by releasing this statement:

“The Republican Party strongly believes that a government which spends without restraint, incurs record amounts of debt, owns banks and makes cars is not the right kind of 'change' America needs.”

So, Detroit aside, is Steele trying to bash Obama or Dubya?

Speaking of non-existent socialism, you know how Texas is talking about seceding from the US because Obama hates the state governments and wants Washington to rule everything? Well, that arguments going to hold even less water than it already did, because yesterday a memo was sent out from the White House to every federal agency stressing the importance of state laws, even when they sometimes conflict with federal ones. A similar statement has been sent out by every president since the 80s except for, interestingly enough, Bush-43. Wasn’t he from Texas or something?

Not nearly enough people have been paying attention to Senator John Ensign’s comments defending Guantanamo Bay. I’m sure he thought it was a good idea at the time, when he said of the facility: "They get better health care than the average American citizen does." It probably looked good on paper, but I doubt his raw honesty sends the message he really intended it to. Why aren’t more people talking about this? We’ve kept these people without trial or jury, and yet their health care is still better than your standard American citizen’s? Where’s the public outrage over this?

But enough of the preshow! Bring on the big bads! Let’s get it on!

In the left corner, weighing in at a lean and muscular 170 pounds and invulnerable to everything except delayed cabinet postings and kryptonite- President Barack Obama! In the right corner, weighing in at a somewhat less lean 320 pounds and more machine now than man, Former Vice-President Dick Cheney! It’s back to back speeches time- bring it!

On Constitutional Values:

OBAMA: “I've studied the Constitution as a student, I've taught it as a teacher, I've been bound by it as a lawyer and a legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief. And as a citizen, I know that we must never, ever, turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake. I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset -- in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.”

CHENEY: “Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.”

On Ethical Issues like Torture:

OBAMA: “After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era -- that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law... Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight.”

CHENEY: “I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do... [T]o call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What's more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.”

On Defense and Security:

OBAMA: “I ran for President promising transparency, and I meant what I said. And that's why, whenever possible, my administration will make all information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. But I have never argued -- and I never will -- that our most sensitive national security matters should simply be an open book. I will never abandon -- and will vigorously defend -- the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war, to protect sources and methods, and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. Here's the difference though: Whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions -- by Congress or by the courts.”

CHENEY: “But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes un-pursued … can bring on catastrophe - it's no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance. “

On Closing Guantanamo Bay:

OBAMA: “Now, as our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These are issues that are fodder for 30-second commercials. You can almost picture the direct mail pieces that emerge from any vote on this issue -- designed to frighten the population. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.”

CHENEY: “The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America's national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.”

Personally, any time I here Dick Cheney say he’s watching out for me I feel like adding the word ‘out’ to the sentence is a learned action. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about which team you’d like governing us, but I for one think that the former VP’s mother picked the perfect name for him.