When I was in high school I took a class in mechanical drawing. It actually was a pretty cool course as it taught me a lot about measurements, dimensions, perspective and engineering. But one lesson I remember most from that class, showing the builder what is there, not what isn't. And I've found that applicable to all work that I've done, writing, producing, political punditry. You need to focus on what's there, not what's missing.
My first mechanical drawing project was to blueprint a rectangular "frame" that was 8x6. The center hole was 4x4. I rendered the plans indicating the outside dimensions of the top (8) and the side (4) and I also gave the dimensions of the hole, 4 inches square. Easy.
When I turned it in, I was extremely pleased. But when the grade came back, I only got a "D".
I asked the teacher why, and he taught me a valuable lesson that the GOP needs to learn.""You don't give the dimensions of what's not there," the teacher told me. "You show the builder what is." We deal in a results based world.
He corrected my drawing by indicating the widths of the top and side rails, not the hole in the middle.
The same foundational thinking is necessary as the 2014 midterm election approach. For the GOP, it's not what they didn't do that we will vote for/against; its what they did do. (Which is very little, even less that the Harry Truman dubbed, 'Do Nothing' Congress)
Sadly, our current spate of GOP law makers don't have a lot to show for their time in the Majority.
The 213th Congress can focus on 42 attempts to derail the Affordable Care Act. That's a positive action. Not a popular one but it's something they did do. They voted to cut the deficit as well as food stamps, but that only happened by way of the sequester, and sadly both parties are responsible for that. And finally, the majority in the House shut the government down. That certainly isn't going to win them too many votes. You need to look hard and finely to register any other legislative wins.
That fact is this country has more registered Democrats than Republicans. And the big races and certainly the Presidency will require Independents and cross over Democrats for the Republicans to win nationally-- even with gerrymandering. How are you going to make a dent in those numbers running strictly on what's not there? Under Reince Priebus they've become preoccupied with stressing the dimensions of the square donut hole void in the middle, and not the support rails that do exist. They're running on what's not there, not what is.
By 2014, Obamacare will be up and working. It's a sleeping giant that's already stretching, yawning and wiping away the morning gunk from it's eyes. Perhaps the GOP should think about sewing some suitable clothes for the waking giant rather than wishing it away. It's not going away, so find a way to become it's friend. An ally monster is far better than an angry one.
So the Republicans, if they're smart (no guarantee there), through all their bluster, need to stop giving us the dimensions of the hole -- their lack of legislation. Their failure to govern. They wallow in what they haven't done (the void). They've stifled health care, immigration, education, science, climate control, adequate food assistance, a viable jobs program, fixing the infrastructure and meaningful finance reform. Boasting how you prevented these programs from existing isn't anything more that your continued describing the hole they've dug.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment this past year is their majority led vote to shorten the number of working days from 141 to 127 and then complaining they don't have enough time, now that we're mid-way through November, to pass any legislation. Don't look for voter sympathy on that one.
If you want to do something, quickly bring the Senate immigration bill up for a vote in the House. At least end the year on a high note. Have something positive to stand for, not just the giant hole you've dug for yourself so far.
What's a two word phrase, both words five letters, that means GOP hypocrite? Try M-A-R-C-O R-U-B-I-O. Yep, Marco Rubio. The junior senator from Florida.
When Rubio got elected, many in the GOP thought they had found their savior. He was the bright shining beacon that would cause the South to rise up again. The damaged Phoenix would take flight on his back. Atlas would lift up the Republican world. Oh, happy day.
It didn't take the heralded right wing Tea Party savior long to make a name for himself. One of his first tasks in putting an inviting face on his aging white, old man's, party was to deliver the official response to Obama's state of the union speech. You all remember Marco's Gulp-gate speech. I think it was cotton-mouth's finest moment.
But after that fiasco, the Tea Party wasn't going to jettison him. So he took his shot of confidence and embarrassment and was determined to carry the banner. Waiting in the wings, in case he failed was another freshman, Rafael Cruz, and though only partially Latino and foreign born, Raffy was ready to pounce. He was just waiting for his moment.
And it came. With POTUS eyes, Rubio calculated a risk -- he and the GOP need Latino votes. With his seemingly Italian surname he knew he wasn't guaranteed to bring in the desired Latin demographic, so he joined seven other senators and wrote a bill that became known as the Rubio Immigration Bill. He gave it that name, until he started to get backlash from his own conservative followers. What the hell was he doing giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship?
Oops. He hadn't calculated that. But what was he to do. Turn his back on his Latino heritage or turn his back on the old white men of his party? The one's who had the money. Here he was with the Rubio Immigration bill. He was stuck.
Or was he? He immediately went to the press and hammered over and over again that this was the Senate immigration bill, not his. And for a while, he pulled the wool over the eyes of the voracious Fox News talkers and Rush Limbaugh-type radio jawboners. He convinced them that his name shouldn't be associated with this bill. It was the Gang of Eight's bill or even better, the Senate bill. And soon people forgot in who's name the bill was really branded. Rubio.
Now, seeing a little daylight and a chance to pounce, Cruz who's name sounds more Latino but in reality he's only half, jumped in and took on even more right wing Tea Party issues -- shutting down the government. That left Marco battered and bruised. Though he's tried to hold onto Rafael's coattails, he's falling farther and farther behind. Now, most in the party have pretty much given up on him. He's too liberal.
Leave it to Chris Hayes to put it all in perspective. Marco, you can hide, but here's a hint-- you're hiding in plain sight.
Talk of the 2016 Presidential candidates is open and clear, despite the fact that Rachel Maddow has banned it from discussion on her show until after the mid-term election in 2014. It really can be silly talking about it so soon after we've just completed our last general election.
But I'm with a lot of pundits and am impatient. I like listening to all of the chatter and blathering. Already some names have exploded on the scene and some have already started to fizzle. Burnout and sharper observation have begun to winnow the list. It started with these kinds of names:
Democrat: Clinton. Biden.
Republican: Cruz, Rubio, Bush, Lee, Paul, Christie, Cantor and Ryan. Even a resurgence by Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, possibly McConnell just bring me to tears.
It's obvious the Republicans have a void in finding people American can get behind.
So I did a little unscientific survey to see who would people like to have leading us. Who is that man or woman who can inspire us to be the best that we can be? There must be someone.
And there is. Look at a partial his list of accomplishments:
He has won the lifetime achievement award, twice.
His business card simply says “I’ll call you.”
Cuba imports cigars from him.
Mosquitos refuse to bite him purely out of respect.
Once while sailing around the world, he discovered a short cut.
When he drives a new car off the lot, it increases in value.
He is fluent in all languages, including three that only he speaks.
His beard alone has experienced more than a lesser man’s entire body.
On every continent in the world, there is a sandwich named after him.
He lives vicariously through himself.
If he were to punch you in the face, you would have to fight off the urge to thank him.
He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels.
When it is raining, it is because he is thinking of something sad.
You know the guy. He's the Most Interesting Man in The World. See for yourself:
There is no doubt he would win hands down, taking a majority of both parties. There's only one problem; he's too smart to be a Republican.
Don't let the accent fool you. He's more American that Rafael Ted Cruz. This man was born in the US, but he's a citizen of the world.
If Hillary decides to run, it'll be because he told her to. And if she asked him to be in his cabinet, he'd be named, Secretary of Everything. What else would call the Most Interesting Man In The World?!
It happened before with these very same Republicans -- well the ancestors of these very same Republicans. And history just may be replaying itself.
Take the unlikely comparison of Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose Party with another Teddy (Rafael 'Ted' Cruz) and his Tea Party. Don't roll your eyes. I said "unlikely."
Set your 'way back' time machines to 1912. Republican voters of the day couldn't decide between the sitting Republican President William Howard Taft and former President Teddy Roosevelt. When the convention backed Taft, Roosevelt stormed out and formed his own party -- the Bull Moose Party and joined in the general election against Democrat Woodrow Wilson AND Taft.
Taft and Roosevelt came away with a combined popular vote of 50% whereas Wilson ended with 43% of the vote. Many historians believe that the Bull Moose Party split the Republican vote there by leading to Wilson's victory although there are some who believe he would have won anyway.
Now return to today. The Republicans are publicly and privately in dispute. There has been a hijacking of the overall leadership by today's Bull Moose party, only now it's called the Tea Party. Will they go off into different camps, part ways and see what happens?
If you know your history, you know that the Bull Moose experiment didn't last very long. It had a few gasps of life, but after a few years it was pretty much gone. A flash in the pan.
Perhaps the GOP will learn from it's ancestors as well as the recent MSNBC - Wall Street Journal poll that they need to mend from within, or both could be doomed. Will clearer minds prevail over the wackadoos? Only time will tell but Lawrence O'Donnell explains it pretty well below.
If there's two people who've never met a war they didn't like, it's Lindsay Graham and John McCain. Now you can add a third name to that list-- Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. He's the Israeli who's no Disraeli.
Tuesday, the Israeli Prime Minister flexed his wings, his sharpened talons and his polished beak and took to the podium to address the United Nations. What was this staunch leader's purpose? Peace? Trust? Unity?
None of the above. He came to stir the pot. He came to instigate potential war with Iran. If Netanyahu really cared about the safety of his country he would be rooting for US/Iran accords on nuclear weapons, not trying to start a war. Why are peaceful negotiations any less valid than winning by war?
Now is there reason for concern? You bet.
Benjamin Netanyahu told the U.N. General Assembly that Israel's future is threatened by a "nuclear-armed" Iran seeking its destruction. He urged the international community to keep up biting sanctions against Iran, saying the greater the pressure, the greater the chance for diplomacy to succeed.
He also accused Iran of lamenting the human tragedy in Syria, but at the same time directly participating in "Syria's murder and massacre of innocents."
"Diplomacy to succeed." Now that's the kind of talk we all should have on our minds. Not war. Not nuclear, chemical or traditional warfare. And certainly not accusing a country of aiding in murder and massacre of innocents.
Talks, sanctions and emissaries is the way to proceed. A process that's been woefully lacking with the US and Iran -- over 30 years since their respective leaders have talked, until last week.
Now that direct interaction is beginning, one of the largest recipients of successful talks, Israel, is tossing fuel on the fire, not water. Through Netanyahu, they are stoking the fires and trying to instigate a war-like posture, not a peaceful one. That's just wrong.
It's fine to share your doubts on the credibility of the process and even the partners in the discussions, but not resulting in name calling. Unsubstantiated claims and rumors. Is Iraq to be trusted? That remains to be seen. But with a new regime, don't they deserve a chance to prove that they've changed before calling them names?
Netanyahu accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of masterminding Iran's strategy to advance the country's nuclear weapons program and said his goal was the same as his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf's clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing," Netanyahu said.
Bibi needs to tone down his rhetoric. There's no doubt Israel knows very well what's going on in the middle east. And they are in a very close proximity and reach of a nuclear weapon -- which, BTW, they have for themselves. So their input is valuable. But in needs to be tempered and privately discussed with the US. Not at the UN. Not unless you're going to bring names, dates and proof of verifiable complicity in war atrocities.. Rumors and innuendo aren't going to cut it. And waving a piece of paper around with dates and locations isn't enough. We learned that with Colin Powell. He had "proof" too. Show us the money.
When we were on the brink of a vote to go to war with Syria, we reached, with Russia's assistance, an accord on chemical weapons. That went to the UN and it was signed by the United Nations Security Council. Despite hawkish opposition in the US (McCain and Lindsay) the seemingly achievable and peaceful solution was reached. Will it succeed? We don't know yet. But we're not bombing and killing people just to arrive at the same solution.
If we had listened to the hawks, we'd currently not only have a government shutdown, we'd be bombing Syria and as John McCain loved to sing, bombing Iran. Lindsay Graham had already announced a military action plan in formulation by him and other warmongers.
We have to give peace a chance. That doesn't mean surrender. But it also doesn't mean going to war to win a peace. It rarely happens that way.
Netanyahu should stay vigilant. But he also should watch his mouth and the inflammatory statements he's making. Despite what he may believe, he serves at the pleasure of the United States. If we didn't back Israel as we rightfully do, he very well could be under Palestinian rule in Jerusalem, and not the other way around.
Bibi's a good head of state but perhaps lacks the discipline, nuances or patience of a great leader. He needs to tone down the disruptive rhetoric and threats, stop shouting "...Or Israel will go it alone." They're not going anywhere alone. They walk with the US and we're proud of that alliance. They don't need to be undercutting what hopefully will be a peaceful solution to the potential nuclear weapons issues in Iran.
Chill, Bibi. If you have to shoot something, try clay pigeons, not people. As always, America's got your back.
Who's running the House of Representatives? Nobody.
Usually it's the majority that rules. The Majority names the Speaker of the House. He's the Big (Wo)Man On Campus. He/She runs the show and determines what bills get voted on. If you don't have the Speaker on your side, you're sunk.
But what if you do have the gavel-holder with you? You can get just about anything passed onto the Senate. Anything worthwhile. Even with some dissenters - rarely does a bill get all 435 representatives to go along unanimously.
So dissent among the majority party is common.
There are 233 Republicans in the House. Of them only 60 are members of the Tea Party. So that leaves 173 real Republicans. Speaker Boehner represents them. With 200 Democrats in the House, there's 373 potential votes to keep our government funded. The Democratic votes are assured on a clean bill for the CR, the continuing resolution.
If only 218 votes are needed to send a clean bill to the Senate, is it possible that the Speaker, the leader of his party, can't muster up 18 votes from his 173 non-tea party representatives?
Well, with Saturday night's vote, he didn't even try. He not only weighed the bill down with demanding a 1 year delay in the ACA but also added a so-called "conscience clause" in the government funding bill in a plan they approved early Sunday. This anti-women's clause would allow employers and insurers to opt out of providing health care services that they find morally or religiously objectionable. Take doctors out of the equation. If Uncle Sam was objectionable in the examining room, now some bean-counter will be given the decision. I can't wait to see those commercials with an accountant sticking his head in for a gynecological exam.
No wonder the Huffpo reports that the stench of booze could be smelled on the House floor. The members had to drink themselves drunk in order to vote for this trash.
So who's calling the shots? It's obviously not the Speaker. And though Rafael 'Ted' Cruz and Mike Lee are talking to the 60 tea partiers, that's still not going to change anything. Boehner should have been able to get the 18 votes he needs to save his party. Instead, he caved. Now two senators, Cruz and Lee are co-speakers of the house.
With a default on funding and a government shutdown resulting, the Republicans are doomed in the 2014 election. Just ask Newt Gingrich how that works.
So for fear of passing a bill which will save his party's collective asses, COWARD John Boehner has become the dog being wagged by the tea party tail.
I predict his days are numbered as Speaker, especially now with the shutdown near assured. On top of that, he will go down in history as the individual who destroyed the GOP. It's not going to be Cruz. He's a folk hero. It's not going to be McConnell-- he'll be voted out of office before 2014 ends and with the Tea Party's help. And it's not going to be Bachmann. She's a footnote as the party fool, the court jester. It's going to be Boehner. And perhaps it's only fitting that a man with a funny name carries that banner of his boner... caving to the Tea Party far right.
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Kuwaiti Citizen Detained at Guantanamo since 2002
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