A quick trip down memory lane. Democrats had suffered a crushing blow on no other day than the 1st Anniversary of Pres Obama’s Inauguration into office. Jan 20, 2010. We had lost Sen Ted Kennedy’s seat. The fate of the Healthcare bill hung in a balance. It had passed the House earlier in December 2009. The Senate version passed in a cliffhanger moment with ailing WV Senator Robert Bird being wheeled in, and Sen Sherrod Brown flown in by WH straight from a funeral, to cast the critical filibuster-proof vote just a breath before Christmas Day 2009 rolled in, and start of congressional winter recess.
But come January 2010, the two bills needed to be reconciled. On this anniversary date, Scott Brown trounced Martha Cokeley in the MA senate special election. Democrats’ threadbare 60 filibuster-proof caucus, gone. Healthcare reform teetered on brink of collapse. Many Very Serious People in the Beltway, pundits and Democrats told the President to give or radically scale back his Healthcare quest. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel read him the “Political-Implications-Riot-Act.” WH was in a deep funk.
Then came the Republican House’s grand invitation to Pres Obama visit their caucus retreat in Baltimore, MD. They probably wanted to humiliate the president for his recent loss, through fake chivalry.
WH RSVPed with one tiny request, whose acceptance a House GOP member later said was the biggest mistake they ever made. Pres Obama had asked to bring camera crew along.
First were his opening remarks calling for both parties to work together:
There’s a reason that the 1 hr 20 minute Q&A section that followed these opening remarks shook the Beltway political universe, prompting media calls for British-style “Prime Minister’s question Time” tradition to be established here in the US, to engender real dialog among political parties. Of course GOP rejected the idea and it fizzled. But for many Democrats, what became known as The Baltimore Massacre, would be grist for partisan loremaking. One man. 183 GOP congresscritters & their families. (Sinews taut). Room darkened, spotlight on POTUS against black curtained backdrop. T’was like oratory in a theater. No notes. Brilliance extempore.
The entire exchange is worth spending time listening to again in its entirety just for the sheer thrill of watching President Obama glow in the den of the opposition.
However, there is a segment key to the subject of this essay; that President Obama foresaw exactly the predicament that Republicans would be in now, incapable of saying “Yes” to anything he proposes, offers or agrees with them on, that they become convulsed contortionists.
Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) had asked Pres Obama why he won’t take GOP (harebrained) plans on healthcare reform. He patiently tried to explain to her that Democrats HAD included many Republican ideas into the healthcare bills if they were objectively shown to be workable. But the critical point he made was that their reflexive rejection of anything he’s proposed including personal demonization of him, was going to hurt them in the long run.
So, 45 months ago President Obama predicted exactly to a T the current GOP Convulsions. We’ve seen this phenomenon play out over and over, but none of those prior occasions have been as dire as the shutdown we’re in the midst of and the looming economic catastrophe should we enter default.
Speaker Boehner, there is a way to retreat from that feeble ledge. President Obama WILL help you if you let him.
“Over 1400 people were gassed, over 400 of them were children ….. I was elected to end wars, not start them, but there are times we have to make hard choices if we’re going to stand up for the things we care about.”
President Obama announced on Friday that he plans to institute new reforms to include greater oversight of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, just over two months after former NSA consultant Edward Snowden leaked secret documents detailing their scope and reach. First, Obama said he would work with Congress to reform the authorities authorizing NSA surveillance so that they include more safeguards and oversight to further protect from abuse.
Obama said he would also push to give greater assurances to the American people that the secret court authorizing surveillance that privacy is being protected, including having government arguments “challenged by an adversary.” Third, Obama said he wants to declassify more information about the programs, including the legal rationals behind them, and create a website to learn more about U.S. surveillance activities. Finally, Obama said he would assemble a team of outside independent experts to review communications and surveillance technologies and issue a report on findings and recommendations by the end of the year.
ThinkProgress: Politico Revives Junk Science Suggesting Hispanics Are Dumber Than Whites
Earlier this year, Jason Richwine lost his job writing about immigration policy for the conservative Heritage Foundation after it came to light that he suggested Hispanics and blacks were genetically less intelligent than whites and Asians in his graduate dissertation. I conducted a lengthy review of Richwine’s research, finding that it was grounded in poor conceptual analysis and wildly outdated research.
Friday morning, Politico published an op-ed by Richwine misrepresenting his research, the controversy surrounding it, and the facts about race and intelligence in some really basic ways….
Sahil Kapur: Obama Torches GOP For ‘Ideological Fixation’ With Repealing ObamaCare
“Now, I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail,” he said. “Their number one priority, the one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care. And presumably repealing all those benefits I just mentioned. Kids staying on their parents’ plan, seniors getting discounts on their prescription drugs, a return to limits on lifetime limits, continuing to get blocked from health care insurance.”
“That’s hard to understand as an agenda that’s going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we’re going to replace it with something better. There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better. The notion is simply that those 30 million people or the 150 million who are benefitting from the other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it. That’s their assertion. Not backed by fact, not backed by any evidence. It’s just become an ideological fixation.”
Reuters: U.S. To Reopen 18 Of 19 Embassies Closed Amid Security Concerns
Eighteen of the 19 U.S. embassies closed this month due to worries about potential terrorist attacks will reopen on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.
“Our embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The United States will also keep its consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, shuttered, Psaki said, adding it closed on Thursday due to a “separate credible threat.”