Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Election 2012: Ousting the Obstreperous Obstructionists

by Sunnyjane

Listen closely and you can hear it.   It’s that roar coming from the House Chamber, where the shouts of NO reverberate so violently and with such consistency that the ghosts of Congresses past cover their ears and hang their heads in sorrow and shame.  

It is the sound of legislators with the wisdom and experience of a grape seed, and hearts and souls that are blacker than a witch’s liver.  It is the members of the Tea Party, that Koch-funded grassroots gang of so-called "real Americans" who are raucously encouraged  by such pea brains as Ron Paul (the "intellectual godfather" of the Tea Bagger movement), his head-stomp-sanctioning son Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Eric Cantor, and Michele Bachmann.  

This particular Congress is not ready, not willing, and not able to perform the jobs they were elected to do as representatives of the people.  On the contrary,  for thirteen months they have supported the drive to push the United States of America into a state of disaster.   It’s time to send them back to their home districts where they can resume their wretched little lives in the ignoble obscurity they so richly deserve.

The Failure of the 112th Congress

Thirteen percent of American adults believe that the current Congress is doing a dandy job.  I don’t know for certain, but they may well be the ones who are signing up for Newt’s moon colony because he has promised to take along some poor kids to clean the toilets in the honeymoon suites. 

Three percent of the voting population either don't know or are undecided about the issue.   These are the same people who have to consult with their Rite Aid pharmacist about how to use a rectal thermometer.

The remaining eighty-four percent of us know very well that these so-called Representatives have accomplished little more than to name some Post Office buildings.   That is hardly what they were sent to Washington for, and we are ticked off to the max.  As John Adams, thoroughly irritated with the Continental Congress's unwillingness to vote on the question of independence, so aptly stated in  1776:  

I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm; and that three or more  become a Congress! And by God, I have had it with this Congress!

There is but one recourse for the Eighty-Four Percent.    Andrew Sullivan fairly well nailed it when he wrote in Vanity Fair recently, The only way out of that deadlock is an electoral rout of the GOP, since the language of victory and defeat seems to be the only thing it understands. 

The Objective: Recall and Replace  

As I wrote in a previous post, it is imperative that we clean the House and Senate of the obstructionist Tea Party members who are only there because in 2010 the Republican Party thought it was a brilliant means of thwarting the pro-middle-American agenda of President Barack Obama.  In this post I will talk about two of these people who need to be replaced with representatives who are, at the least, willing to work with the president.  This post will briefly summarize the political histories and current agendas of these so-called legislators in the House of Representatives who are currently accepting very nice tax-paid salaries and very affordable tax-payer subsidized healthcare plans to crush the lives and liberties of ninety-nine percent of Americans.  

Profiling the Poseurs of the Far-Right 112th Congress

Daniel A. "Dan" Webster served for twenty-eight years in the Florida legislature and won handily against Democrat Alan Grayson in 2010, proving that most of the voters in the 8th District may well be as anal on social issues as Webster himself.

A pro-life “right-wing social engineer” of the worst kind, Webster wants to ensure that the government has the power to decide when we’re born, how we marry, and under what circumstances we die.  It is pure hypocrisy that the party of smaller government should attempt with such passion  to enact legislation that actually allows government to sets rules on how Americans should live their lives.

On Birth:  As anti-abortion as any religious extremist drawing breath today, Webster proposed a bill in 2008 forcing all women planning to undergo an abortion receive an ultrasound, but giving them a choice of whether to see the live images of the fetus.  Sadly, this bill eventually passed.

On Marriage:  Back in 1990, Webster proposed a bill in the Florida legislature on covenant marriage, which could only be dissolved on grounds of adultery.   The proposal stated, in part, that the husband-and wife-to-be would have to have their parents' permission and attend premarital counseling by a member of the clergy or a marriage counselor before proceeding. As part of their marriage license, the husband and wife would then have to sign notarized documents declaring:  I, (insert name), do hereby declare my intent to enter in Covenant Marriage. I do so with the full understanding that a Covenant Marriage may not be dissolved except by reason of adultery. I have attended premarital counseling in good faith and understand my responsibilities to the marriage. I promise to seek counsel in times of trouble. I believe that I have chosen my life-mate wisely and have disclosed to him or her all facts that may adversely affect his or her decision to enter in this covenant with me.  Astute readers will notice that there is no mention of physical or mental abuse in this bill.  As his opponent, Alan Grayson, said during the 2010 campaign, Dan Webster’s bill reduces the institution of marriage to a roach motel: You can check in, but you can’t check out.   Fortunately, this particular piece of regressive legislation was not enacted.

On Death:  Webster inserted his self-righteous notions into the Terri Schiavo case, which involved an ugly legal battle between Schiavo’s parents and her husband on whether to remove the feeding tube of the unconscious woman, who had been in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) for fifteen years.  When the feeding tube was removed by court order in March 2005,  Webster introduced a bill that would have prohibited such patients from being denied food and water if family members disagreed on the patient's wishes and if the patient had not expressed his wishes in writing when competent.  The bill failed to pass the Senate by three votes.  The subsequent autopsy backed Schiavo's husband and doctors in their contention that she was in a persistent vegetative state, finding that she had massive and irreversible brain damage and was blind. 

After successfully campaigning on a platform of  smaller, streamlined government, spending cuts, budget roll backs, tax cuts and increasing the protection of personal rights (does everyone see the irony here?) against Grayson in 2010, Webster flew into Washington via the encouraging wings of the Tea Party, took his rightful place with all the other entry-level life forms, and has faithfully marched to Eric Cantor's Koch drum ever since.

In his first year as a U.S. Congressman, Webster has done little except support the Ryan Budget Plan.  It is encouraging to know that he has made neither the conservatives nor other voters in Orlando happy.   The once-supportive Tea Party jumped all over him for not pushing hard enough to cut the federal budget, while angry attendees at one of his town hall meetings lashed out at him for his support of the budget plan.  As Think Progress reported in April 2011, the attendees' criticism was so fierce that Webster didn't just avoid the questions by resorting to talking points... On numerous occasions, [he] simply declined to give an answer to contentious questions altogether, moving on to take a new question instead.  

Alan Grayson announced in July 2011 that he will run in November to regain this seat.  Let's assume that the voters of that district have sufficiently recovered from their little 2010 fit of rebellion  and that they will vote  to end Webster's reign as their too-far-right representative.

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan has been taking up valuable space in the House since 1999.   One of his more dubious jobs before becoming a kowtowing-to-the-far-right congressman was legislative director for then-Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.   Surely you remember now-Governor Brownback, who got his shorts in a swivet when a high school senior had the temerity to tweet something rather benignly negative about him back in November 2011.   The thin-skinned governor did a third-grade tattletale routine on her to the school board, demanding an apology.  She refused.  (Chuckle, snort, snicker.)

After a grueling eight years of doing little but voting Yes on everything that George W. Bush expected from his various congresses, Ryan was finally tasked with something for which he could use his less-than-evident skills. 

The Young GunsRyan and cohorts Eric Cantor of Virginia and Kevin McCarthy of California founded this group, a recruitment and campaign strategic plan by House Republicans to protect their senate and congressional seats and help elect new GOP candidates across the nation in the 2007 and 2008 election cycles.   New “members” in this little society could be assured that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) would help fund their campaigns.   They were so successful in the mid-term 2010 elections that the House captured the majority.  And the program is alive and well for 2012, this time being managed by Pete Sessions of Texas, Greg Walden of Oregon, and Steve Scalise of Louisiana.  As Sessions told Politico in November 2011, We are committed to staying on offense, and the goals for every level of Young Guns demand aggressive action and innovative strategies for candidates to build winning campaigns.  Some names to look for (and vote against) are Randy Altschuler of New York, Andy Barr of Kentucky,  Jackie Walorski of Indiana, Brendan Doherty of Rhode Island, and Steve Daines of Montana.  

The Man with the Plan:  It probably would have served the country well if Ryan’s mother had let him be come the ski bum she feared he might turn out to be.   But no, she couldn’t leave well enough alone, and in early 2011 her son introduced the GOP’s proposed budget plan for 2012 and beyond, quaintly titled The Path to Prosperity.   This anti-middle-America “road map” turned out to be a trip down easy street for the rich and A Faster Road to Disparity for the remaining ninety-nine percent of American citizens.  A few lowlights highlights of this plan that was no doubt scripted by ALEC at the direction of his buddies the Koch Brothers, at whose super secret “annual retreats” Ryan is a regular attendee:

Medicare:  The Center for Economic and Policy Research published a study, based largely on Congressional Budget Office calculations, advising that the Ryan Plan would add trillions of dollars to the cost of Medicare due to the lower efficiency of private insurance as compared to the current Government program.  

Changes to Tax Laws:  While proposing the elimination of tax loopholes and deductions, the GOP budget fails to name exactly which of these would be abolished.  The Atlantic disparaged the plan’s proposal by writing, A plan that proposes to eliminate tax loopholes and deductions, but doesn't say what any of those are, is neither brave nor serious. It is, instead canny—or cynical, take your pick.  This is a chicken-hearted move for the GOP, because they know Americans would not accept some of the more popular deductions.   For instance, would they dare to say aloud that a deduction like home-mortgage interest payments should be cut?   I don’t think so. 

Defense Spending:   Ryan's proposal would increase the budget for national defense by $22 billion to a total of $583 billion in fiscal 2012, and would provide defense increases each year, leading to a $642 billion defense budget in 2016.  (It is hardly breaking news that the GOP loves the Defense Department, but hates middle-and lower-income Americans.) 

In a recent interview with Ed Schultz of MSNBC, Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had some rather harsh words for Mr. Ryan’s little plan, at one point saying, I think clearly what Ryan is about is continuing the Republican effort to engage in class warfare. Who in their right mind could support a proposal which says more tax breaks for the wealthiest people and yet we’ll cut Medicare and Medicaid in drastic form.

Fortunately (and somewhat amusingly, I might add), all has not gone well for The Path to Prosperity.   Representatives across the country faced angry constituents at town hall meetings in 2011 and found it almost impossible to defend the proposed budget.  In an effort to avoid the indignity of such an audience, Ryan decided to charge a $15 fee for his own town hall meeting last September and ended up having twenty fee-paying constituents thrown out and three arrested.   How'd that pay-per-view thingy work out for ya, Congressman Ryan?  And of course, there’s the hilarious statement by Newt Gingrich in May 2011, in which he called Ryan’s budget plan right-wing social engineering.  To which Ryan replied on Laura Ingraham’s show, With allies like that, who needs the left?    

Paul Ryan needs to go back to Wisconsin and resume one of his former jobs: driving a Wienermobile for Oscar Mayer.

End Note 

In subsequent posts, I will continue to profile the obstructionists.  The Republicans intend to do everything possible to maintain their House majority and take control of the Senate by propping up their current herd of regressive sycophants and rounding up more of the same.  Progressives must be just as focused in order to take back the House and protect or increase the majority in the Senate.   Not only is it important for President Obama's second-term pro-America agenda, but it's imperative that we keep the bozos out of our bedrooms!

A warning to Republicans, courtesy of Bob Dylan:

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall.
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled, 
There's a battle outside and it’s ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls,
For the times they are a-changin'.

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