Status Quo? Hell No!

These days it seems that bipartisanship is all the rage.

Not in practice, mind you, but as a codeword sop to the masses as justification for defending the status quo.

The end result of bipartisanship is paring down a bill until it changes next to nothing of import.  And then selling it as if it were the greatest thing since the last bucket of lukewarm spit to pass this way.

This is nothing new in politics. The money has always been on the side of the status quo, since change can be costly to one’s bottom line. 

And the status quo has perennially been about "I’ve got mine.  Screw you," now hasn’t it? 

One only need watch the FDR Fala speech (Youtube above) to get that. Or read a little history, you can pretty much pick any era.

What is new? That there is no real voice for change and the little guy capitalizing on this moment in our nation’s history.

And it shows.

Jean Edward Smith has a fantastic op-ed in the NYTimes today talking about FDR, the false sop of bipartisanship and the real value of a little more backbone:

. . .this fixation on securing bipartisan support for health care reform suggests that the Democratic Party has forgotten how to govern and the White House has forgotten how to lead.

Roosevelt understood that governing involved choice and that choice engendered dissent. He accepted opposition as part of the process. It is time for the Obama administration to step up to the plate and make some hard choices.

He cites numorous examples of Roosevelt New Deal reforms which were enacted in spite of entrenched interests, and not because they’d been pared down to mere windowdressing to win their support.

Was Glass-Steagall passed in a bi-partisan fashion with entrenched interests on Wall Street given a seat at the negotiating table? Hell no. Social security?  Are you kidding me?!?

Were there membes of Congress consorting with moneyed interests trying to block the bill, much like Max Baucus’ lobbyist-filed anteroom? Undoubtedly.  Although, as Krugman points out, there’s a lot more of that lobbyist payola floating around these days.

But the real difference between then and now?

FDR sold the need for change at the grassroots by making that change actually happen.  And without selling the public’s interest down the river in the process.  Which made his grassroots support all the stronger, and enabled him to fend off opposition by painting them as being against the public, fueling more public support in the process. 

FDR drew his power for change from the people, not just from the people around him inside the Beltway.

Better political leadership in the Democratic party would help.  So would those leaders actually believing in the need for change instead of giving it political lip service and then undercutting it with their actions.

Can the Obama administration still make needed changes? Absolutely.

Will they? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?


Health Care: Making Waves On Women’s Reproductive Health And Choice

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day — and the 89th anniversary of women winning the right to vote with the passage of the 19th amendment.

I spent an hour yesterday on a call organized by the White House regarding health care and inequality of coverage and services for women. It’s an important issue, especially since women have the most to gain from better health care provision. 

It was important enough to the WH that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from Health and Human Services, Melody Barnes who is chairperson of the WH Domestic Policy Council and Tina Tchen, Deputy Director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement were all on the call.

The interesting thing?

It seems activist women are less than certain about a Democratic commitment to fighting for reproductive health rights.  Every question except one was about reproductive health issues and the current mishmash of bills.

At one point, I asked about "reproductive conscience" issues and whether the Administration would be pushing for express language in the health care bills preventing prescription refusals or refusals of medical care under standard practice guidelines.  Sec. Sebelius explained that the President had issued an EO rescinding the overly broad "conscience rule" from the Bush years back in February which she thought was sufficient.

They are also currently working on rules dealing with allowing for conscience objections while making certain that health care is not compromised.

Does that mean care and reproductive rights will again be compromised?  She didn’t say, but I’ll certainly be following up on that.

When I reiterated that, living in a rural state like WV, women could be severely limited in where they could get health care, and that poorer women, especially, might have difficulty with transportation to another clinic or pharmacy miles away from their home? Sec. Sebelius indicated that she understood that very well, and that was certainly being taken into consideration. But those issues were being tackled separately from the health care bill itself.

And then?

Tina Tchen from the White House Office of Public Engagement stepped in to say that it wasn’t "productive to talk about issues outside the health care process."

In other words, don’t muddy our waters by asking inconvenient questions?

Pardon me if I don’t take that suggestion to heart. (more…)

President Obama’s Speech At Joint China/US Economic Strategy And Dialogue Session

Thought some folks might be interested in this, considering that the Chinese economy and ours are so intertwined at this point.  Lots of nuance here, as usual with anything dealing with the Chinese, diplomacy and the economy. 

But it’s especially touchy at the moment given the worldwide recession issues and how much US debt the Chinese are currently holding — which, in my mind anyway, diminishes our ability to leverage them on any concessions on trade imbalance, human rights or otherwise.  (Especially given our own recent track record on the same.) 

Thoughts?

btw, this transcript comes directly from the WH — this is their transcription, not mine. Just fyi.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT THE U.S./CHINA STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC DIALOGUE
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.
9:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good morning. It is a great honor to welcome you to the first meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the United States and China. This is an essential step in advancing a positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship between our countries. I’m pleased that President Hu shares my commitment to a sustained dialogue to enhance our shared interests.

President Hu and I both felt that it was important to get our relationship off to a good start. Of course, as a new President and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said, "No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another." Well, through the constructive meetings that we’ve already had, and through this dialogue, I’m confident that we will meet Yao’s standard. (more…)

Now This Is Just Fun To Watch…

Now this YouTube is just fun to watch.

Willie Mays, arguably the greatest baseball player in the history of the game. (At least, we think so at our house. I got Mr. ReddHedd a signed baseball contained in a shadowbox with a photo of the over-the-back catch for our 10th anniversary.)

Sitting on Air Force One, getting thanked by President Obama for blazing a path for the rest of the

BREAKING: New DOJ Communications Guidelines Emphasize DOJ Independence

Ask, and ye shall receive. Guess who got her hot little hands on the new DOJ “Communications Guidelines for Contact with the White House and Congress” from a source in the know? The memo is fairly new, dated May 11, 2009. And not yet available online that I’ve been able to find. So you get a first peek along with me. We’ve put the full four page memorandum up here as a PDF for your perusal.

Does Obama WH/DOJ Policy Restrict Politicized Communications? Or Not?

Remember those charts that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse revealed during the USAtty firing hearings? (You can look here at “Related Files: Justice Dept/White House Contacts” [PDF] on the right hand side, Sen. Whitehouse has put up the whole thing on his website.)

The first chart had a grand total of 7 contacts (4 WH and 3 DOJ) between the DOJ and the White House from 1994 to 2002.

SCOTUS: Why Stand Up To Asshattery From The Right?

Political pundits, electoral operatives and former elected officials are like the undead: just when you think they’ve been buried, they rise up again from the political graveyard. No matter how craptastic their myriad sins may be — stealing from public coffers, ethical lapses out the wazoo, being a race-baiting bigot, whatever — they continue on your teevee and in print.

Blinded By The Slight

Here is the difference in thought process between Dick Cheney and his true-believing supporters and rabid family defenders versus anyone who dares to doubt them (in this instance, represented by President Barack Obama). Let’s call it “delusion, in a nutshell.”

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