Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Chuck Hagel: The “Perfect Fit” for Secretary of Defense

December 31, 2012

One of the first ways I got involved with politics was being part of the Internet movement that supported former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for President back in 2008.  Back then I ran the Michigan for Hagel 2008 blog and co-ran the Students for Hagel blog.  Once Hagel announced he wasn’t running, the group disbanded, but a few of the leaders of the movement have stayed in touch.  When rumors came out that President Obama was considering Hagel for Defense Secretary, we decided to come together and ensure that the smear campaign against Hagel wasn’t successful.

He has combat experience—having served in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader, he achieved the rank of Sergeant and was awarded multiple medals including two Purple Hearts.  After leaving the military, Hagel was dedicated to helping American troops and veterans.  He was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, where he fought for funding for VA programs, and he served as president and CEO of the USO.

Hagel also had a successful career in the private sector, co-founding a cell phone manufacturing company and serving as CEO of American Information Systems.

In short, Hagel has the military and administrative experience needed to be America’s next Secretary of Defense.

And despite the arguments made by some, Hagel’s positions do generally fit with the Republican Party.

Yes, it is true that Hagel was critical of many of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the Iraq War, but much of his disagreement with the Bush Administration dealt with the lack of transparency.  Throughout his Senate career, Hagel fought for transparency in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged open Congressional debate, rather than quick votes on such important issues.  Isn’t that at the heart of the Republican Party—encouraging open public debate instead of shady, quick votes to ram legislation through? Hagel captured this principle in saying, “To question your government is not unpatriotic—to not question your government is unpatriotic.” Considering that right now, the GOP is fighting for transparency on the issues of the conflict in Libya and Benghazi, doesn’t it make sense to support someone who fought for DoD transparency, from both a Republican President and a Democratic Senate?  The fact that Hagel’s fight for transparency transcended political boundaries is exactly the reason he’s perfect for the Department of Defense.  The Defense Secretary shouldn’t be loyal to a party; he should be loyal to American and her national security.  And Hagel has agreed with this, saying, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

And labeling Hagel a liberal based on his Iraq policy is absurd.  Hagel’s plan for Iraq was different than both the mainstream Republican and Democratic plans at the time. Rather than withdraw as soon as possible or stay indefinitely, Hagel advocated for moving our troops out of the areas of civil war and to the borders. This would ensure that terrorists did not flee or enter the country, while leaving the Iraqis to resolve the inner conflicts, a job that they, not the U.S., were best suited for.

On the issue of Israel, he has defended “our continued commitment to Israel’s defense” and acknowledged the “special and historic bond” between the U.S. and Israel. At the same time, he realizes that peace with its neighbors is the best thing for Israel.

While acknowledging that the defense budget needs to be cut, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board sequestration cuts.  In fact, it was because of reckless Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives that we are facing such drastic across-the-board cuts.  The defense sequestration cuts would come about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was supported by 174 House Republicans and 28 Senate Republicans.  Passing such a bill to allow across-the-board cuts was reckless, and Hagel has never come out in support of sequestration; however, like many Republicans, he agrees that the Defense budget is bloated and should be cut where possible.

And Hagel supports continued sanctions against Iran and has never ruled out military action against Iran to prevent them from achieving nuclear capabilities.  But as a result of his experience in Vietnam, he realizes that we shouldn’t be putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way unless combat is absolutely necessary.  And that’s a good principle that the GOP should agree with.

Does Hagel agree with every single word in the Republican platform? No; but then again, who does? In fact, he had an 84% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Republicans could not ask for a better nominee for Secretary of Defense from a Democratic President, and instead of hounding Hagel for disagreements in the past, Republicans should rally around him as a defender of many conservative principles and causes.

Republicans can’t just oppose Hagel because they want to oppose the President.  It’s time to stop being the party of “No”.  Hagel is one of our own, and while he may lean more moderate, he’d make an excellent Secretary of Defense.  It would be a shame if his nomination or confirmation was destroyed because the GOP wants to oppose Obama.  There is no good reason the GOP should oppose someone like Hagel.

For those who would like to show their support for Chuck Hagel, I would encourage you to like the Facebook page that was started, and if you’re on Twitter, I would encourage you to use the hashtag #SupportHagel in your tweets on the subject.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize; But Was It Too Soon?

October 9, 2009

Earlier today, it was revealed that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”  President Obama has become the 4th U.S. President to win the honor, and only the 2nd sitting President to do so (the other was Teddy Roosevelt).

And while I would congratulate the President for such a high honor, I would also question whether or not it may have been a little too soon.  When Roosevelt won the prize, he was already 5 years into his presidency, while President Obama hasn’t even finished his first year.

Some have said that President Obama deserves the award, and it gives him a goal for his presidency, while others, such as past 1983 Nobel laureate Fmr. Polish President Lech Wałęsa were surprised at how soon into his presidency he won the prize: “‘What? So quickly? … He is proposing, he’s started, but he still must act.  We’ll see if he does what he proposes.  Sometimes the Nobel committee [awards the prize] as a way of encouragement into action.”

I would agree with Walesa – I think this was somewhat premature.  President Obama hasn’t really done anything yet – he’s just laid out plans for what he wants to do.  So if he lives up to his promises, he’ll be alright, otherwise it’s going to leave him looking like he really didn’t deserve this.

But I do think that the President handled the situation well – he admitted that he really didn’t think deserve this right now, but that he will take the award “as a call to action”.  Here’s the full transcript of the President’s address to the media earlier today:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                          October 9, 2009

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON WINNING THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Rose Garden

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.  After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, “Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday!”  And then Sasha added, “Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.”  So it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee.  Let me be clear:  I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. 

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.  And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.  And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
    
These challenges can’t be met by any one leader or any one nation.  And that’s why my administration has worked to establish a new era of engagement in which all nations must take responsibility for the world we seek.  We cannot tolerate a world in which nuclear weapons spread to more nations and in which the terror of a nuclear holocaust endangers more people.  And that’s why we’ve begun to take concrete steps to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, because all nations have the right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but all nations have the responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.

We cannot accept the growing threat posed by climate change, which could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children — sowing conflict and famine; destroying coastlines and emptying cities.  And that’s why all nations must now accept their share of responsibility for transforming the way that we use energy.

We can’t allow the differences between peoples to define the way that we see one another, and that’s why we must pursue a new beginning among people of different faiths and races and religions; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

And we must all do our part to resolve those conflicts that have caused so much pain and hardship over so many years, and that effort must include an unwavering commitment that finally realizes that the rights of all Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security in nations of their own.

We can’t accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for — the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you won’t have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.

And even as we strive to seek a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully and prosperity is widely shared, we have to confront the world as we know it today.  I am the Commander-in-Chief of a country that’s responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies.  I’m also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work.  These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people. 

Some of the work confronting us will not be completed during my presidency.  Some, like the elimination of nuclear weapons, may not be completed in my lifetime.  But I know these challenges can be met so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.  This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration — it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world. 

And that’s why this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity — for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets; for the leader imprisoned in her own home because she refuses to abandon her commitment to democracy; for the soldier who sacrificed through tour after tour of duty on behalf of someone half a world away; and for all those men and women across the world who sacrifice their safety and their freedom and sometime their lives for the cause of peace. 

That has always been the cause of America.  That’s why the world has always looked to America.  And that’s why I believe America will continue to lead.

Thank you very much.

END                                                    
11:22 A.M. EDT

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has rejected claims that the prize was awarded prematurely, and Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the committee told reporters, “We want to emphasise that he has already brought significant changes.  We do of course hope that there will be many concrete changes over the years but … We felt it was right to strengthen him as much as we can in his further struggle for his ideals.”

Personally, I disagree – I think it was premature, but I am proud that an American won the prize, and I hope Obama is a champion of peace throughout his presidency.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

President Obama Calls Kanye West a “Jackass”

September 14, 2009

During an off-the-record portion of an interview with CNBC today, President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass” for his storming the stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speach for Best Female Video at MTV’s Video Movie Awards.

Then, during an interview today, President Obama called West a “jackass” while the cameras were off.  But ABC News reporter Terry Moran posted the following on Twitter: “Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a “jackass” for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT’S presidential.”

The tweet was quickly deleted, but not before people heard about the comment.

Personally, I agree with President Obama – I probably wouldn’t have worded it as strongly as he did, but Kanye West is an idiot just looking for some time in the spotlight in my opinion (and I might be biased since I like Taylor Swift too).

Now, while I agree with President Obama here, I would not be happy if I were him.  Moran NEVER should have posted that – it was an off-the-record part of the interview and should have stayed that way.

Since then, ABC has released the following statement:

In the process of reporting on remarks by President Obama that were made during a CNBC interview, ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview. This was done before our editorial process had been completed. That was wrong. We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that it will not happen again.

So – here’s an issue where I’ll agree with the President.

On a related note, I found the following video early today that I found pretty amuzing:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
[digg=http://digg.com/politics/President_Obama_Calls_Kanye_West_Jackass

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They're saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

President Obama’s Speech to Students Was No Big Deal

September 8, 2009

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of concerns from conservatives saying that President Obama’s speech to students today was going to be a means for him to indoctrinate students with socialistic and liberal ideals.  Personally, I doubted that this would happen – I figured that the President’s speech would be nothing more than the basic “Stay in school.  Don’t do drugs.  Strive to be the best you can be” speech that presidents have been giving for years.

And I was right.  I didn’t find anything indoctrinating or partisan about the President’s speech to the students of Wakefield High School (Arlington, VA).

If you’d like to see a video/transcript of the speech, those are available here, courtesy of ABC.

It was honestly a good speech to students – he emphasized the importance of staying in school, saying, “If you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.  What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country.  The future of America depends on you.”

He talked about the responsibilities of parents: “I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.”

And he made some good points encouraging students not to just give up and make excuses: “But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude.  That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.”

So, I think the lesson that some people need to learn from this is, not everything has to be political.  A speech to high school students about staying in school really can be just that.  Just because we disagree with President Obama on health care or other issues doesn’t mean that we need to cry “Foul!” and run around screaming “Socialism!” and “Indoctrination!” all over the place, because that degrades the level of debate that we should be engaging in politically and brings the entire political system down to a level of grade school childishness.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

D.C. Voting Rights Act is Clearly Unconstitutional

March 4, 2009

Last Thursday, the Senate passed the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009, which gives the District of Columbia a voting member in the House of Representatives and eliminates the position of D.C. Delegate, who represents the District now.  Currently, that delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, can only vote when her vote does not affect the outcome; however, she is allowed to introduce bills, and this bill was introduced by Norton.  The bill would also give an additional seat to Utah, so that the partisan makeup of the House stayed the same.

S. 160 (formal title: “A bill to provide the District of Columbia a voting seat and the State of Utah an additional seat in the House of Representatives”) was introduced by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  The bill passed the Senate in by a vote of 61-37, falling mostly along party lines; however, five Republicans voted for it (Susan Collins [R-ME], Orrin Hatch [R-UT], Dick Lugar [R-IN], Olympia Snowe [R-ME], and Arlen Specter [R-PA]), and two Democrats voted against it (Max Baucus [D-MT] and Robert Byrd [D-WV]).

The bill that passed the Senate had been amended by Senator John Ensign (R-NV).  His amendment (S.AMDT. 575) restored several gun rights to the District by repealing the ban on semiautomatic weapons, the registration requirement, the ban on handgun ammunition, and several other laws.  That amendment passed 62-36.

Personally, I am ashamed of the Senate for passing this bill (although I’m glad that gun rights have been restored to the District).  Apparently 61 of our Senators need to go back to eighth grade civics class!

This act is clearly unconstitutional!  Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution says, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States.”  Washington, D.C. is not a state-it’s just that simple.

Furthermore, Norton never should have been allowed to introduce this bill.  She is unconstitutionally in the House of Representatives.  Section 2 of Article I also says, “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not … be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.”  Norton is not an inhabitant of a STATE, and thus should not be able to introduce legislation in the House!

I am all for the representation of D.C. in Congress; however, this bill is not the way to do that.  If D.C. really was Constitutionally allowed to have a representative, they wouldn’t need a law to get their representation – all they’d need to do is file a court case.  Furthermore, if they deserve representation, why don’t they deserved 2 Senators as well?

If the House passes this bill and President Obama signs it, this bill would probably be the most blatantly unconstitutional law ever written.  At least when President Bush violated the Constitution, he did so in ways that were debatable as to whether or not he actually violated the Constitution, but this bill takes Article I, Section 1 and says, “That’s not an important part of the Constitution.”  Find me any time that President Bush DIRECTLY violated the Constitution – he  didn’t.  The violations of the 4th Amendment were debatable.  I personally think that he violated the 4th Amendment, but there are ways that you could argue that he did not; however, with this bill, nobody with an ounce of sanity can argue that this is Constitutional!

Does anybody else find it ironic that the same Senators who complained about President Bush’s debatably unconstitutional laws just voted in favor of a law that directly and clearly goes against the very wording of the Constitution?  Come on!

Proponents of the bill claim that the “District Clause” (Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution) allows for the Congress to give D.C. a Representative.  The text of that clause reads, “[The Congress shall have Power] To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District … as may … become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”

“Exclusive Legislation” only gives Congress the right to govern the District, not magically ignore Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution when it comes to the District.

This bill is blatantly unconstitutional, and those who voted for it and criticized the Bush administration ought to be ashamed of themselves.  Fortunately the Supreme Court still respects the Constitution, and I am willing to bet that they will declare this unconstitutional in a heartbeat – in fact, I really don’t see any of the 9 Justices siding with the Senate.  If they do, they are shaming the Constitution and the office of Justice of the Supreme Court!

Even my liberal roommate agrees – this bill is CLEARLY unconstitutional!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: Add to diigo :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! ::

Vladimir Putin Warns U.S. Not to Fall into Socialism

February 19, 2009

Well, it appears as if Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin knows more  about economics than President Obama.  The following is an excerpt of Putin’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (transcript courtesy of the Wall Street Journal).  The full speech can be found here:

Esteemed colleagues, one is sorely tempted to make simple and popular decisions in times of crisis. However, we could face far greater complications if we merely treat the symptoms of the disease.

Naturally, all national governments and business leaders must take resolute actions. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid making decisions, even in such force majeure circumstances, that we will regret in the future.

This is why I would first like to mention specific measures which should be avoided and which will not be implemented by Russia.

We must not revert to isolationism and unrestrained economic egotism. The leaders of the world’s largest economies agreed during the November 2008 G20 summit not to create barriers hindering global trade and capital flows. Russia shares these principles.

Although additional protectionism will prove inevitable during the crisis, all of us must display a sense of proportion.

Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state’s increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.

The concentration of surplus assets in the hands of the state is a negative aspect of anti-crisis measures in virtually every nation.

In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.

Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.

And one more point: anti-crisis measures should not escalate into financial populism and a refusal to implement responsible macroeconomic policies. The unjustified swelling of the budgetary deficit and the accumulation of public debts are just as destructive as adventurous stock-jobbing.

That’s right, Prime Minister Putin warned against “excessive intervention in economic activity.”  What do you think we’re doing right now as we spend trillions of dollars in bailouts?  That, my friends, is excessive intervention.  He’s absolutely right when he says, “There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.”

Honestly, this has to be one of the best things Putin has ever said.  He deserves a heck of a lot of credit for this one.  But honestly, did you think he’d say anything else?  He lived through the economic disaster that was the Soviet Union.  He understands that the path that the U.S. is going down is a DANGEROUS path, and he’s doing his best to warn us.

I only hope that the Democrats in Congress and President Obama heed his warning.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! ::

Obama Bitter that Republicans Rejected the Stimulus Package?

February 17, 2009

So, I was just watching the news, and they were talking about a picture and caption of the White House website.  Neil Cavuto (FOX News) was asking if the following caption was a cheap shot at Republicans.  Here’s the picture (I’ll discuss it below and ask for your opinion) (see here for the original picture; it’s picture 4: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photogallery/The-story-of-the-economic-recovery-package/):

 bitter-obama1

If you can’t read it, the caption says, “House Republicans surround the President after the meeting. Many of them were seeking his autograph. Every House Republican eventually voted against the bill.”

Now, I have to agree with Neil here.  The photo album never talks about all of the Senate Democrats voting for the bill, or all but 7 House Democrats voting for the final version of the bill (originall 11 voted against it).  It does talk about Susan Collins (R-ME) voting for it, but that’s understandable, because that was unique and he was meeting with her in order to bring her to his side.

I think this was just a partisan move meant to put the Republicans in a bad light.

So, tell me what you think:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! ::

President Obama Signs $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan

February 17, 2009

Moments ago, President Obama singed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus package into law.  Unfortunately, I was taking a phone call during the beginning of his speech, so I couldn’t live blog it, but I did catch some key parts (I’ll do a summary of the whole speech later).

One part that caught my eye was when he said that the bill was “a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments.  It is a plan that’s been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel spending.  And it is a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.”

Really?  Because, I remember the Democrats promising that the final version of the bill would be available to be read for 48 hours before being brought to a vote, but it was brought to a vote around 12 hours after the bill was posted (posted on-line around 12:30 A.M. last Friday), and voted on, I believe around 2:00 P.M. in the House, and later in the Senate.  At one point, Representative David Obey (D-WI) got in an argument with a Republican Representative (I don’t remember who), and asked the Republican to show him something in the bill.  He held it up and the Republicans just laughed.  He made a fool out of  himself by SHOWING that nobody could quickly find anything in the bill – it’s over 1,000 pages long!

So, I wonder if the Democrats and Obama will stick to this  promise of “transparency and accountability” or if they will continue to change their promises like they’ve been doing so far.

I see us being right back in position of “needing” another stimulus package in 6 months or so.  Hopefully the next one  won’t be “needed,” but if one is proposed, I hope that one fails in Congress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! ::

Déjà vu : Senator Judd Gregg Withdraws Nomination for Commerce Secretary

February 12, 2009

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has just withdrawn his nomination for the position of Commerce Secretary.  This is breaking news coming in now, but there’s not yet word on the reason behind it.

Just in – there are 2 reasons:

  1. He is unhappy with the economic stimulus package.
  2. He is unhappy that the census moved from being controlled by the Commerce Department to the White House.

So, President Obama is going to have to AGAIN find another person for Secretary of Commerce (since Governor Bill Richardson [D-NM]).  I’ll try to update this when there’s more information.

UPDATE:

Here’s what Obama said during an interview on Air Force One:

“Judd is a good man.  And I think that he sincerely wanted to work with us.  I think he had a change of heart on the idea of leaving the Senate.  [Gregg is] somebody that we’re going to work with on issues like fiscal responsibility, the fiscal summit that’s coming up.  And the one thing I want to make sure of is that people don’t take from this the notion that we can’t get Democrats and Republicans working together.  I’m going to keep on working at this, and eventually, we are going to break down some of these barriers because the American people need it.  They are desperate for us to find common ground.”

He was then asked, “What do you see in terms of common ground potential that perhaps we in the media do not?”

Obama: “I’m an eternal optimist.  I can tell you, generally speaking, Judd Gregg and I agree on 80% of things that matter to the American people.  There’s 20% that we disagree on.  I’ve always felt that we can find areas to work on that we share, and then have a vigorous, heated debate on some of the things that we don’t.  And I think we’re going to get there. [Gregg and I] had a discussion over the last couple days.  I wasn’t sure whether he had made a final decision or not.  But clearly, you know, I think he was just having second thoughts about leaving the Senate, a place where he’s thrived and been there for a long time.  You know I think the one thing I give him credit for is having searched his heart before he took on the job because obviously you don’t want somebody having a change of heart after they have been confirmed and are in the process of building a team.”

Answering a question about when he realized Gregg had reached a final decision, Obama said: “Today.  Look, this kind of thing happens all the time, people change their minds.  Just usually there aren’t a lot of reporters around when it happens.”

And here’s a press release that Gregg issued:

“I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.  This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time.  I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me.  Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns.  We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

“I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

“As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals.  This will certainly be a goal of mine.

“Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period.  In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision.  I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.

And here’s what he said in an interview right after the news broke that he was withdrawing:

I regret that due to the impending Senate schedule involving the potential of dealing with an extremely large stimulus package, coupled with the ongoing issues of developing fiscal policy relative to the budget and the continuing economic downturn and my responsibility for foreign operations appropriations, it has become difficult to continue service on the TARP oversight board.  I have advised Senator McConnell I will need to step aside from this effort.

Gregg, also a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that even though he is leaving TARP, he will continue to work with the panel.

I will continue to be involved in ongoing TARP discussions and oversight, and will work to ensure that TARP funding remains focused and targeted in order to stabilize our economy and protect consumers.

Alright, so there’s the press releases / comments that were issued.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! ::


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 287 other followers

%d bloggers like this: