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Friday, June 27, 2014

Triage for a bleeding lame duck

"We conclude that the Recess Appointments Clause does not give the President the constitutional authority to make the appointments here at issue." - Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority opinion in the unanimous finding of N.L.R.B. v Canning, issued 26 June, 2014
"The Constitution makes it clear that a president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws." - Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-Ohio) announcing to the press his intention to get Congress to sue President Obama for not following his oath of office
There's blood in the water fountain on the North Lawn of the White House. Phrases like "constitutional authority" and "not faithfully executed" cast a shadow of doubt in the minds of the undiscerning, over the integrity of the president they elected to office, twice. The question is whether the Supreme Court and House Speaker John Boehner are inflicting a thousand tiny cuts or whether it's a self inflicted mortal wound cut by the knife of good intention.

White_House-NorthLawn
Wikimedia Commons

How the administration responds to these slings and arrows of misfortune is important, not only for President Obama, but also for the Democrats who hope to succeed him. With his popularity numbers hovering around 40 percent, and a public perception of disregard for the rules of power, the meme that asks "Do you want another four years of the kind of governing we saw under Obama," is going to make any Democratic candidate's push to the 2016 election difficult, especially those who have no buffer from the actions of the administration, like Vice President Joe Biden and the favored, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

But what do we fight for? How about idealism, fairness and equality?

"I think Washington in general is unpopular, the president and congress, because we seem dysfunctional and we are dysfunctional." - Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), on NBC's Meet the Press, Sunday, June 22, 2014

In the American experience, our country's forebearers have left us a legacy of knowing who and what we are against. From religious persecution to the British, from slavery to Jim Crow, we fight. That is our story. We find purpose in the fight, so we agree on very little and the few policies where we find consensus are devoured by the vermin that infect the political beast. Just ask deposed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) what it's like to wake up with the fleas with whom you've gone to bed, crawling under your skin.

The Republicans like to draw a picture of Obama being the extreme, and then there's everyone else, or as John Boehner likes to call them, "the American people." (Someone should to a count of how many times the Speaker uses that phrase when he actually means the Republican base, but I guess they're American people, too - just not all the American people.) Inside the current dynamics of his party, that may be true.

"We are now operating in the Obama Republican Party," Jon Lerner, a Republican consultant, admitted to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, recently. "Obama’s lurch to the left on size-of-government issues has created an aggressive Republican reaction..."

That is, of course, an oversimplification.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Evolution: seeing without the lens of war

US Soldier in Afghanistan
US Army photo
We never asked to be the world's parental nest. We never asked. But we had the most money, the most successful populace with a laissez faire attitude about world affairs, and the biggest fist, the strongest hammer. Yet, as President Obama said at the West Point graduation, last week, "Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail."
"[T]o say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution."
There is difficulty in letting go of power, but there is greater difficulty in using it in unwelcome ways, like missile firing drones and monitored cellphones. If we want to have a relationship with the world, we must allow that relationship to evolve. Once we have stopped being the heavy hand with the rest of the planet, we can be the tender touch to nurture, from the strength of knowing how to get things done, what a free world creates.

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