mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Don’t Cry For John Boehner”: An Old King Who Couldn’t Keep Up With The Palace Intrigue

Don’t cry for John Boehner, Washington.

Oh, no, the Ohioan doesn’t want to stay another day in the Capitol. The House speaker, who announced his resignation on Friday, had brought Pope Francis to address Congress. The soaring visit, a beautiful intermission for the city, represented the zenith of his career. His time as speaker has been a world of hurt – for President Barack Obama, too, who made a serious mistake in trying to work with Boehner early on.

Boehner clearly felt he could give no more. Besides, he’s 65, retirement age. Golf courses are out there. He’s always been more about politics than policy. Now he is like an old king who can’t keep up with palace intrigue. In a way, the pope, whom Boehner wept over, gave him spiritual permission to leave the fray.

For nearly five years, he was a strange bird flying through the halls, the House speaker who could not speak for his House Republican caucus. A rambunctious bunch, the right-wing element openly defied Boehner. He got no respect and as a result, accomplished next to nothing.

Not that Boehner’s a progressive – far from it – but he tried to keep order. The “conservative” rebels, a few degrees away on the ideological spectrum, were not having any sense or sensibility from their leader. In their latest great idea, they are flirting with shutting down the government of the United States over Planned Parenthood funding.

Look how well their government shutdown worked in 2013. The sequester, too, was a painful episode

The right-wing brigade also nurses fond hopes of getting rid of the Export-Import Bank, a perfectly good institution that more than pulls its weight.

The truth is, Boehner is a creature of the politics he practiced since the harsh days of Newt Gingrich’s speakership. He was an acolyte in that Republican Revolution of 1994, and this is what it’s come to: a houseful of angry white men in charge. More disarray is surely on the way.

Boehner, a jaundiced fellow, never took Obama’s outstretched hand. In the old school, when someone is elected president of the United States, it’s sporting to cut the guy some slack. No such luck. Over Obama’s presidency, Boehner refused to give ground on ending the Bush tax cuts, for starters. That set a hostile tone for other fiscal and budget issues.

Obama’s downfall with Boehner was believing he could charm him. That was never going to happen. Their was never any jovial Irish jokes between them, as there was between Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill.

Just yesterday, the speaker started speaking some truth; on the CBS News show “Face the Nation,” Boehner called the destructive right-wing faction “false prophets.” His tongue set free, he got religion. Perhaps he’s darkly hinting, “Be careful what you wish for.” If so, he might be right.

At last, a few words about “the barkeep’s son.” Boehner is too often summed up that way. What’s so great about that? Boehner himself says he’s just a regular guy – this is true. We in the press should not romanticize him. Let’s also remember he has cultural streaks of a Southern good ole boy, coming from the cusp of Ohio that borders the South.

Don’t cry for me, John Boehner, and I won’t cry for you.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. Newsa and World Report, September 28, 2015

September 30, 2015 Posted by | House Republican Caucus, John Boehner, Right Wing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“They Want To Torch Washington, Not Run It”: GOP’s Kamikaze Caucus Takes Out John Boehner

“I consider this a victory for the crazies,” said one Republican congressman who attended the meeting in which Speaker John Boehner shocked the political world by announcing his resignation.

Boehner, the consummate congressional dealmaker, faced another looming government shutdown. His abrupt decision to resign at the end of October is a sign that there are no more deals to be made with the conservative Kamikaze caucus.

The fundamentalist crew that Boehner-allied Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has called “lemmings with suicide vests” and “right-wing Marxists” has been preparing to take the country to the brink of shutdown and default again this fall over their demand to defund Planned Parenthood and refusal to raise the debt ceiling.

In the closed-door meeting, the speaker warned against a government shutdown, telling the assembled Republicans that shutting down the government was self-defeating for the GOP and the pro-life cause. But his announcement “took all the air out of the room,” the attending congressman told The Daily Beast. “No one expected it.”

Boehner is an old-school Main Street Midwestern Republican—he’s conservative, but not crazy. His insistence that governing is more important than grandstanding has made him a punching bag for presidential candidates playing to populists. Take the recent cattle call hosted by the conservative frat-boy scam that parades under the name Heritage Action. Candidate after candidate blamed Boehner for all the ills facing their party. One of the attendees, a man named Valentine Sanchez, told The Daily Beast’s Patricia Murphy that he wanted Boehner out “the sooner the better. We need conservatives in there.”

In fact, Boehner’s been one of the steady voices of sanity in an unhinged time for the Republican Party.  He’s been the adult in the room filled with red-faced tantrums and toddler-esque factional squabbles. And he’s been constrained from pursuing many of his true goals by trying to hold in check the Tea Partiers that got him elected speaker in 2010 as they morphed into the Troll Party, more welcoming to ultra-right absolutists than to conservative reformers.

Not only that, his longtime friends have disappeared one by one. Veteran Reps. Tom Latham, Steve Latourette, and Buck McKeon have all retired in recent years, leaving more and more him alone on the throne.

Still, he’s given as good as he’s got, calling Ted Cruz as a “jackass” for cheerleading the last shutdown and slamming Heritage Action and other members of the conservative activist class, saying, “They’re using our mem­bers and they’re using the American people for their own goals…This is ridiculous.”

As a result, Boehner’s ambition to shepherd conservative immigration reform through the House fell apart. In the spring of 2014, he noted that the immigration “problem’s been around for at least the last 15 years. It’s been turned into a political football. I think it’s unfair…I think it’s time to deal with it.”

This pronouncement was swiftly declared a “Death Warrant for Conservatism,” by the Powerline blog, while Heritage Action’s Dan Holler told The Daily Beast’s Patricia Murphy that Boehner’s statement was “a full-throated embrace of amnesty.” This kind of overheated exaggeration is typical of the kind of opposition Boehner faced.

Boehner’s ambition was abandoned once his deputy, Republican Majority leader Eric Cantor, was cannibalized in a primary, losing to an activist who joined in the anti-immigration reform chorus. In the closed-door meeting, Boehner referred to the upset, saying that he only intended to serve two terms as speaker but then Cantor lost. “Life changes, plans change,” Boehner explained.

The emotional impetus for his surprising decision might have been Pope Francis’s historic speech to Congress the day before, in which the progressive pontiff made a case for exactly the kind of bipartisan reasoning together that has been targeted by the Kamikaze caucus: “We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.” This approach to governing has been effectively criminalized by too much of the current conservative movement. It is a firing offense.

And so Boehner decided to jump before he was pushed, tired of the prospect of another self-defeating fight with the extremists in his own party. Maybe Boehner could’ve held on as speaker—if he’d decided to depend on votes from Democrats to retain his seat. But while most of Boehner’s recent legislative successes required bipartisan coalitions, that degree of career-saving support was likely too much to ask from Nancy Pelosi & Co.

Now President Obama has witnessed the vanquishing of two conservative congressional leaders—Boehner and Cantor—who were deemed insufficiently radical by the conservative populists they first empowered.

With the Republicans still reeling under the Capitol dome, the impact of Boehner’s surprise decision and his successor is still unclear, but it does not bode well for hopes that the United States can avoid another stupidly self-inflicted shutdown. Names like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Budget Committee Paul Ryan were quickly floated as Boehner replacements—and were just as quickly shot down for being insufficient in their fealty to the crash-and-burn Kamikaze caucus.

Moments after the speaker ended his announcement by reading the Prayer of St. Francis (“where there is hatred, let me sow love”) stunned Republican congressmen saw “the crazies already huddling in the hallway.”

 

By: John Avlon, with additional reporting by Michael Daly; The Daily Beast, September 25, 2015

September 26, 2015 Posted by | GOP, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Human Society Has Begun To Work Against Itself”: If Republicans Cared About Families, They’d Stop Blocking Paid Leave

Several participants at the Republican debate last week spoke fervently about putting Rosa Parks’ image on the $10 bill. They also spoke fervently in support of a decision by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood—an organization that counted Rosa Parks among the members of its national board.

The contradiction would have been obvious and painful to Ms. Parks. Like many of us, she’d have been bewildered by the priorities of candidates who have held vote after vote on shutting down vital health services for women, but won’t even schedule a hearing on the FAMILY Act, a bill to provide affordable family and medical leave. It’s impossible to care about families and leave communities bereft of services for contraception, mammograms and other cancer screenings, and dozens more critical health services for women. It’s also impossible to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose a badly-needed, common sense program to make family and medical leave affordable to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member.

In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act passed Congress with bipartisan support. The FMLA provided up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for care of a new child or a serious personal illness or that of a child, spouse or parent. Republicans as well as Democrats saw that valuing family meant making sure people could care for family members without losing their jobs or health insurance. Many of the state and local campaigns within Family Values @ Work’s national network have leaders from both parties—including the numerous Republicans leading the charge for the Family Care Act in Georgia.

So what’s the problem in the nation’s capital today?

The FMLA is now 22 years old. While it constituted a major breakthrough and established the principle that having a family shouldn’t cost you your job, the leave remains out of reach for millions—some because they’re not covered by its protections (two-fifths of the nation’s workforce), and many who are eligible because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave. According to a study done for the Department of Labor (DOL), nearly one in four employed mothers who are pregnant go back to work within two weeks of giving birth—with disastrous results for maternal and infant health. Others who take the time they need to heal and bond with a child often face financial hardship.

A new report from the DOL highlights the high cost of doing nothing—lost family income, lower earnings and weaker job security for women, more stress and worse health, worse outcomes for children and seniors, and fewer men taking leave. Businesses also sustain losses in replacing experienced and skilled staff. Our nation suffers in comparison to all our economic competitors.

The lack of paid leave adds to the growing inequality in our nation. A mere 5 percent of low-wage and part-time workers have any pay during leave. And, as the report points out, there are costs harder to calculate: “We are compromising the needs of our children and our parents. We are sacrificing the fundamental value of spending time with one’s family.”

Pope Francis called the family “a great test bench” for how we organize work. “When the organization of work holds it hostage or, in fact, places obstacles in its way, then we are certain that the human society has begun to work against itself!”

If elected officials are serious about promoting family values, they need to stop wasting time on frivolous bills that are a detriment to women and their families and pass the FAMILY Act, a bill that actually helps families everywhere.

 

By: Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values @ Work; The New Republic, September 24, 2015

September 25, 2015 Posted by | Family and Medical Leave Act, Family Values, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Batten Down The Hatches!”: A Perilous Week Ahead For Our Republican Friends

There’s really only one way to say it: the week of September 21, 2015 could be unpleasant for a Republican Party struggling to find its way in the runup to a big, high-stakes election.

Its presidential field remains nearly as large and definitely as unwieldy as ever. Initial polling after last week’s second CNN debate shows that the long-awaited, fervently prayed-for decline in support for Donald Trump isn’t happening just yet. The main result of the debate was instead to consolidate the powerful position of three dubiously qualified “outsiders,” Trump, Ben Carson, and the star of the moment, Carly Fiorina. All three of them continue to say and do things that aren’t particularly troubling to the angry Republican “base” but are very problematic in a general election.

Over the weekend Trump batted away criticism over his silence in the face of a supporter who loudly insisted in the candidate’s presence that the president is a Muslim born outside the United States (an assertion an alarming percentage of Republicans believe against all evidence). Trump says it’s not his job to defend the hated Obama. Carson is in the spotlight for insisting against the rather explicit language of the U.S. Constitution that there should in fact be a “religious test” for the presidency, barring Muslims. Meanwhile, Fiorina is being besieged by the facts she ignored in her debate presentation–especially with respect to the Planned Parenthood videos she discussed to the delight of Christian Right voters–and by the long-overdue MSM scrutiny of her arguably catastrophic record as CEO of HP, her primary credential for high office (see Jeffrey Sonnenberg’s refutation of her debate remarks about him and her HP tenure).

But even as the three zero-experience front-runners lose friends and alienate people, it’s not like the rest of the field is moving on up. One early favorite, Scott Walker, is by all accounts in desperate condition, and having decided to drop everything else to go try to shore up his horrendous standing in Iowa, made a poor impression on his first post-CNN-debate public appearance there.

Off the campaign trail, congressional Republicans are snarled in separate yet equally dangerous internal disputes over the extent to which they will court a government shutdown to express unhappiness with the Iran Nuclear Deal–which they strangely consider a big political winner for themselves–and to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Budget wizard Stan Collender has now raised his estimate of the odds of a government shutdown to 75%. It’s a particularly bad sign that Republicans are already resorting to the tired and notably ineffective tactic of arguing that it’s Obama who would be shutting down the government by rejecting GOP demands.

If that’s not enough for you, keep in mind the Pope is coming to town this week, and whatever comfort conservatives take from his inevitable condemnation of legalized abortion, he is certain to bring a message on climate change and corporate greed that will make conservative Catholics go a little crazy.

And stimulating craziness will definitely be like bringing coals to Newcastle for the GOP right now. Batten down the hatches!

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 21, 2015

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Government Shut Down, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I Believe That We Can Win”: The Christian Right Has Lost Political And Cultural Influence

Investigative journalist Brad Friedman has observed that America is moving in a progressive direction, despite the mainstream media’s “center-right nation” shibboleth. Despite the obstacles that have been placed in the pathway of progressives, Friedman is correct beyond dispute.

Think back to a decade ago. Same-sex marriage was considered an abomination in large parts of the country. Christian fundamentalists were flexing their muscles as never before. Rush Limbaugh and Fox dominated the American media landscape. The Bush administration had launched a war on climate science. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was gay-bashing his way to national prominence.

Today, marriage equality is the law of the land. The Christian Right has lost political and cultural influence. Limbaugh’s career is in freefall, and Fox may soon follow. Pope Francis has called upon the world to fight for climate justice. As for Romney, well…

The signs of progressive power are everywhere: the growing momentum of Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, the profound failure of the right-wing effort to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, the increasing acceptance of transgender Americans as full and equal citizens, the smashing success of the fossil-fuel divestment movement.

No, we haven’t reached the promised land yet. There are still so many forces of right-wing depravity in our country–some with positions in Congress, some with platforms on cable, some with pistols in churches. Those forces of depravity will not retreat quietly. However, they can and will be defeated.

We’re moving forward. We’re going to make America into what it should have always been all along: a country were any man or woman can rise to the height of his or her potential regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or income; a country where our public schools never have to lack for adequate funding; a country where we don’t shuffle off to war unless we absolutely have to; a country where we recognize the separation of billionaire and state; a country where we look out for future generations by dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions; a country where a woman can exercise her right to choose in peace; a country where maniacs don’t have easy access to guns; a country where knowledge is embraced and ignorance is scorned.

We’re getting there. Yes, it’s been a long road. We’ve had to endure the racist savagery unleashed by the Southern Strategy. We’ve had to endure that force demonic known as Reaganomics. We’ve had to endure an impeachment over an erection and two stolen elections. We’ve had to endure a lie-based war for oil which left innocent blood on Iraqi soil. We’ve had to endure six years of deranged drama from the bigoted enemies of Barack Obama. It’s been a long time coming…but we’re getting there.

We will leave our children and grandchildren a proud progressive country.

We will repair the damage the right wing has inflicted upon our fair land.

We will remedy the injustices that hurt so many of our fellow citizens.

We will declare independence from ignorance and fidelity to fact.

We will move this country forward forever.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 28, 2015

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Marriage Equality, Progressives | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: