Friday, January 29, 2010

Going Nowhere Fast

This New York Times front-page piece today is depressing. We voted for Change in 2008 and we got it. The Change is called Stagnation. We do not appear to have the capacity to move ahead with anything resembling progressive legislation thanks to our regressive Congress. And furthermore, all the signs are pointing in an ominous direction about our future.

Try to imagine us as a nation electing more Democrats or Independents in 2010 who are truly progressive. In a sane world, that is what we would be doing. The realization that Obama can't push through any moderate agenda even with Democratic majorities should be signaling to us that we need to clean house in Congress. We voted for change and we're not getting it. We can see the problem. And we should vote for even more change in 2010 and 2012 and keep at it until change happens.

Sadly, politics and the American voter don't seem to think that way. You voted for change and you're disappointed that change isn't happening fast enough? Quick! Let's get some Republicans back in office! Because, you know, that's bound to help get things moving again.
Increasingly confident of their prospects after the Massachusetts Senate victory, Republicans are disinclined to give ground in policy debates and appear willing to stick with their near-unanimous opposition to major initiatives unless Democrats offer significant concessions.

“House Republicans will seize the opportunity in respectful terms, but candid and frank terms, and make it clear to the president that we have better solutions,” said Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Umm. We have quite a bit of recent history with their "better solutions."

One of the clearest indicators of just how stagnated we have become is on the issue of gays and lesbians serving in the military. I am astonished that DADT is still such a hot-button issue in an era when we have so many more pressing concerns. DADT is so...1990s.
Officials said they were pressing ahead with one of the more controversial items Mr. Obama laid out Wednesday night: repealing the policy barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Senior Pentagon officials said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been in close discussions with Mr. Obama on the issue and would present the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out the new policy at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Changing the policy requires an act of Congress, and the officials signaled that Mr. Gates would go slowly, and that repeal of the ban was not imminent. And it could be a hard sell for the president, even among Democrats; Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Thursday restated his opposition to repealing the ban.

Gays and lesbians are already serving in the military. Repealing DADT simply means these courageous men and women who are putting their lives on the line for our country will simply be allowed to be who they are, without hiding the fact for fear of being discharged.

Even this absurdly ridiculous homophobic piece of rubbish known as DADT faces an uphill battle for repeal. What does this say about the chances for far more complex pieces of legislation which are desperately needed?
Even some of Mr. Obama’s allies said that given united Republican opposition, the goal of more cooperation might be out of reach. “In order to dance, you need a dance partner and there ain’t no partner out there,” Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, noted.

A vote this week on a proposal to create a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to attack rising federal deficits was seen as illustrative of the Republican strategy to thwart Democrats. Though the idea attracted 53 votes — 36 Democrats, one independent and 16 Republicans — it failed because it did not cross the 60-vote threshold.

At least six Republicans who had previously supported the plan voted against it, as did others who have backed the idea in concept. Some of those who voted against the plan suggested they did so because they did not want to give Democrats political cover by joining with them in a deficit reduction effort.

Feeling optimistic yet?
“If the president reaches out to the Republican leadership in a genuine way, the spotlight shifts from his overreaching to whether we can meet him in the middle,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Mr. Graham, with all due respect, there is no middle right now. You and your ilk have vaporized it with your collective knee-jerk accusations of "socialism" directed at anybody with a capacity to think and rationalize, even if they are, from my perspective, center-right.

I'm not sure there is anything I want or need badly enough to meet in Lindsey Graham's "middle," as if there was a chance in hell I'd be getting what I wanted or needed by doing so.

So, enjoy the stagnation while it lasts. It might ultimately be remembered in the coming decade as the best of times.

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