Archive for negotiations – Page 2

Congress Boozes While America Burns


Fiddler on the Capitol Roof

We've all heard the legend of the ancient Roman leader, Nero. He is infamously known as the Emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned."

Well, there's a modern day equivalent now that we have the government shutdown and the debt ceiling looming, just two weeks away. It's called Boehner boozed while America burned. (C'mon, you don't think the speaker got that color from tanning, do you?)

Numerous reports have surfaced that members of both parties were so well oiled, or boozed, or even potentially drunk during the final vote in the House of Representatives just prior the the shutdown, that the wafted aroma of alcohol could be sensed hundreds of feet away. These "representatives" didn't even care to hide their liquid inebriation with an Altoid or stick of gum.

Luckily for them, they weren't given Breathalyzer tests before driving home. I wonder who was their designated driver, if they had been tested.

These reprehensibles had the gall to take such an important vote while on Stoli and Jim Beam? C'mon. Rumor has it, Jack Daniels got thirty-three write in votes and it was a "yes" or "no" vote they were talking.  Show America some respect. Here's just a few of the things your vote has impacted and explain why you didn't feel sobriety was in order for this decision:

From HuffPo:

Medical research won't move forward
The National Institutes of Health will not add new patients to life-saving clinical trialsduring the shutdown, reports NBC. And that could delay crucial new trials.

Francis Collins, director of the NIH, told the Wall Street Journal that about 200 patients, 30 of them children, who would have otherwise been admitted to the NIH Clinical Center this week will be turned away. He noted that most of the kids are cancer patients.

Stoli vodka

Take a swig.

Nutritional support for women and children will be suspended
While most government "safety net" programs, like retirement and welfare, won't be shut down, that's not the case for a program that ensures nutrition, counseling and food benefits to low-income pregnant women and new mothers.


Bend that elbow again.

Food safety could be at risk
The Food and Drug Administration will put half its employees on furlough. While a skeleton staff will handle high-risk recalls, regular food inspections will be suspended,reports NBC.

Jim Beam flask

Go ahead, pop another one back.

New drug approvals
What's more, the FDA will be unable to continue its review and approval process of new drugs. Here are five drugs that were scheduled for October reviews and that may now face delays under a government shutdown. They include a new osteoporosis drug for postmenopausal women and a new approval for the cancer drug methotrexate to treat rheumatoid arthritis.


Top it off with one for the road, your vote.

Congress does not take their jobs or responsibilities seriously. They are politically motivated, not morally so.

I've said it before and I'll echo it through the next election cycle. Sometimes even the good have to go with the bad in a house cleaning, but it's time we start thinking about "Dump the Chump." Washington needs to be swept clean and voices to represent the people's best interests must be their replacements. The moment you start picking and choosing from the current crop, you end up with the same old people with their same old flask uncorked.

Congress has a 10% approval rating. It's certainly not going up anytime soon. So why try to find the one good among the nine unfavorable?

Time for a real change in 2014. And for those few 2013 elections coming up, make some noise. It's a long, long time from now to the next general election. We could burn down, just like Rome if we don't let ourselves be heard.


Could Tip And The Gipper Teach Boehner And The Big O?


Tip and the Gipper

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews. Tweety, as author and a former junior assistant to the Speaker of the House, tells of numerous occasions where the two leaders of opposing parties would argue and fight, but when it came to crunch time, doing what's right for America, they joined forces and made concessions. They knew that their jobs were, by necessity, mutually inclusive.

Now flip forward all these many years and you have John Boehner and President Obama. The two men couldn't be much more different from one another. Yet, like Reagan and O'Neill, they do understand their mutual needs.

And so, despite their differences, today, at 5:30 EST, the President has called together congressional leaders from both parties and both houses to the White House to discuss an end to the government shutdown and potentially increasing the debt borrowing ceiling. Negotiations on both of these matters is something Obama has repeatedly stated he won't do.

So why the meeting?

Some might say, capitulation. Other's might surmise it's just publicity. Even others might think the President is bowing to public pressure to end this standoff and government shutdown. He's doing what is best for the country.

I have a different thought in mind. What if the president was taking a page out of history, the Reagan-O'Neill book? What if Obama's actually tossing Boehner a lifeline?

Here's the way I see it. Boehner, who's in a tough position made even tougher by his own weakness. He's allowed the Tea Party to prevail over the Republican caucus in the House. Boehner's lost control. He has no way out but one. He's totally ego consumed, not unlike Ted Cruz, that his only way free is to get a concession from Obama in order to save face. The Republican brand is taking a real hit with the shutdown, despite all of their lame and ineffective efforts to put the blame on the Dems.

This is spelled out in poll after poll. Voice of America sums it this way:

WASHINGTON — Public opinion polls suggest that congressional Republicans will get most of the political blame in the wake of the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.  The data also shows that Americans are growing tired of what they see as crippling political polarization and dysfunction coming from both major parties.

The latest poll found that 72 percent of Americans oppose the government shutdown and a growing number put most of the blame on Republicans in Congress

So, as Tip and the Gipper would do, they secretly talked. I believe Boehner secretly got word to Obama that he's willing to cave, but needs help. Congressman Boehner begged Obama to hold a "negotiating" meeting, this one tonight, and then he could go back to his caucus and say they won. They forced Obama to the bargaining table.

Why would Obama agree? For the same reasons that Tip and the Gipper struck deals. Obama has always put America first.

Obama will make no concessions tonight, but it'll allow Boehner to strut to the floor tomorrow or the next day and propose a clean continuing resolution (CR) for two weeks. Then discussions on the debt ceiling between the House and the Senate will commence.

It's not pretty. It's not meant to be. It's politics.

And as Tip would say to Ronnie, "You owe me one." That will be the understanding between the president and the speaker. Boehner owes Obama one for saving his ass from his own morass. Hey, don't they say politics makes strange bedfellows?

How timely and perhaps prescient Chris M's book might turn out to be. Don't be surprised, should my prediction come true, to see Chris Matthews, on HARDBALL, taking credit for this salvation. The thought of it sends shivers up my leg.


Shopping List of Debt Ceiling Demands


putting out a fire

Even without  the first fire being put out -- funding of our budget -- discussions are underway to hammer out our debt ceiling. That deadline is quickly approaching and it's even a bigger deal than the budget. This is a huge battle and has a tremendous impact on our international standing. Our financial markets could actually collapse. And so this negotiation must be met with genuine seriousness.

It's great to see the Republicans are giving it the respect that it's due. They have no problem in raising the debt ceiling, but in return, they just want a few, small things picked up at the store on the way to the signing ceremony.

Behold, the Tea-party shopping list. According to HUFFPO, in order to approve an increase in the borrowing limit, President Obama and Congress must also approve:

...a ban on late-term abortions in a bill to authorize a one-year increase of the debt ceiling just three weeks before the Treasury Department expects that the United States will not have enough money to fund its obligations, according to the Washington Post.


While other provisions considered by the GOP had at least a plausible relationship to the debt, a late-term abortion ban does nothing. In fact, the CBO estimated that such a ban will increase the debt.

Okay, what else are those GOP and Tea Party zealots looking for that do relate to the debt?

Republicans are considering demanding provisions favorable to Wall Street banks, expanded drilling, and healthcare and social service cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Shopping list

Well, there you have it. That's quite a shopping list, from abortion to oil drilling. Toss in helping out Wall Street banks, big Oil and more social service cuts and we should have ourselves an agreement.

The White House has looked over this shopping list and here's their comment covered by TPM News:

“The only thing I didn’t see was a birther bill attached to it," Carney quipped during the White House press briefing.

What, no Birther bill?! Both congressional Democrats and President Obama have called this bevy of  bureaucratic BS ludicrous and have stated categorically that the debt ceiling is not going to be a negotiation.

We'll see. I'm sure Obamacare defunding will be part of this on the Tea Party/GOP side as well. As the tail wags that dog, lets see how destructive these right-wingers can be. My bet is they'll shoot themselves with their second amendment protected guns before they'll give up on destroying America over raising the debt ceiling.

Maybe they haven't noticed, but every time the Presidents in the past have asked for and gotten a raise in the debt ceiling, the sky didn't fall in. We didn't suffer. In fact we prospered. It's only when the rest of the world fears our default do we run into problems.


When You Aren't Totally, Fully, Without A Doubt, Absolutely, Completely Sure, Be Quiet



We all know that there's a looming crisis in Syria. We're also quite aware that the public is not in favor of the US taking any miliarty action at this time regardless of the horrific poison gas murders of innocent civilians by the Assad regime this past August 22nd.

Fortunately, through a series of planned or unplanned events, a crack in the diplomatic door has been opened and Obama has chosen to pursue that potential avenue. This must be applauded. Despite all the rhetoric by the McCain hawks or the Rand Paul doves, the drumbeat for war was becoming quite alarming.

What we should be alarmed at is not our determination to make a stand against the use of chemical weapons. But that it took this August massacre to be the flash point. There have been reports of much earlier use of CW's that rose to the White House's attention.


WASHINGTON — In July 2012, senior U.S. intelligence officials drove to the Capitol to secretly brief top lawmakers on the first indications that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.


But it was the beginning of a stream of intelligence documenting what U.S. officials say was a yearlong escalation in the use of the banned weapons by the government of President Bashar Assad, a far more extensive record of the incidents than previously known. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge the attacks for months, and declared in April that it believed Syria had used chemical weapons.

So if Obama knew this information that chemical weapons were being used, why is it that it took this large scale attack in August to trigger his "line in the sand?"

The Daily Beast.

Though President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other officials have asserted there is "no doubt" Assad was behind the attack, they have been careful to refer to "Assad's regime" or the "Syrian regime" to avoid stating it outright. Outside the administration, analysts with senior-level intelligence clearance say there is real doubt that Assad has command of his chemical weapons.

It's this kind of tenuous reassurance or double talk that has me worried. I personally think Assad is in charge of his current regime and anything they do, whether with his explicit, implied or even blind eye are still his responsibility. Just as Obama is ultimately responsible for the US response.

With this question of who really has control of the chemical weapons in Syria, this is the time to tread lightly and continue to investigate. The Washington Times also echos this concern of who's really in command of these CW's.

U.S. intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, though the consensus inside U.S. agencies and Congress is that members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle likely gave the command, officials tell The Washington Times.

If we don't know for sure if it's Assad or his lieutenants, there's something interestingly optimistic in this. Russia also may not know who's really pulling the strings in Syria. And they have a huge stake in making sure these CW's don't end up being used against them down the road. If they back Assad and someone else is capable of using the Sarin gas, then they have a fear that Chechen's or others within Russia may seek out an alliance with the real person responsible and that could bring about an attack on Putin's land.

Just a thought -- if it wasn't Assad himself who gave the order, look for some close adviser to the President of Syria to suddenly go missing, under Putin's secret authority.

Everyone's got some skin in this game. And for a change, the outcome for both the Russians, despite their bluster, and the US are the same-- elimination of the chemicals. So while we give negotiations a chance, let's keep some optimism alive. And maybe during that time, we'll find out who really pulled the trigger on the August 22 chemical attack. It just might be the Syrian Minister or General who doesn't answer "here" when they do the next role call.