Marc Platt's Politics: I'm a Lefty

Jan. 1, 2014

"Im what you would call a regular guy with a big job."
House Speaker John Boehner

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Boehner. I also believe he is in way over his head. 2013 was a tough year for the GOP and prospects may not be getting any better.

2014 is here.

Now we will find out what damage was really done when the GOP House Republicans and Texas Freshman Senator Ted Cruz shut the U.S. Government down in October, 2013.

2014 is an election year. There are 34 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs and EVERY house seat. House seats are up for grabs every two years.

Something has changed in the electorate in recent months. The people are starting to see through the rhetoric and actions are speaking louder than words. This last shutdown will not be forgotten when and where it counts the most. The elections will deliver the final verdict on the recent actions of the least productive Congress in history Congress #113.

President Obama did not come out of the shutdown unscathed with the ACA Rollout debacle, BUT as of this writing in early January, 2014, the people ARE signing up for healthcare. The GOP governors who are NOT allowing their citizens to sign up because of their unwilligness to take the Medicaid money that the government made available simply because of their ideology will have to come to terms with that decision as OTHER GOP governors like Jan Brewer in Arizona and John Kasich in Ohio have soared in their polls after taking the money. It is FREE money for the poor and needy. 

There really is no justification for not helping insure citizens. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana also refuses to help out his downtrodden citizens who have no way of getting coverage.

Political reality is an ever changing beast in this country. It is a lot harder to lie with a watchdog media hungry to savage the hypocrites on both sides of the aisle. 

The political reality is Twitter, Facebook, Intagram, Reddit and other social media ready to pounce within seconds of a gaffe.

Professional and non-professional writers can put something out in the blogosphere in seconds with cellphone videos and tweets when somone says or does anything anywhere in the world.

John Boehner goes to his local eating establishment in Washington during his off hours wearing a baseball cap and a younger American citizen-by-way-of-the Dream-Act practically begs the Speaker to allow her mother re-enter the country. Boehner doesn't promise anything. He seems unmoved. It is all captured on a cellphone and replayed on several newscasts that very night.

Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell have a private conversation during the government shutdown. Paul: "We're gonna win this thing." Unbeknownst to the two Kentucky senators the camera was hot and rolling. EVERY networked played that conversation for days.

This is the political reality we are living in.

In Texas during the summer, Texas Governor Rick Perry called a special session of the state legislature with the expressed desire to railroad through draconian anti-abortion legislation. State Senator Wendy Davis made herself a national celebrity and progressive favorite in thatr Republican-dominated state with a 13-hour filibuster. There were live streams of the session and lots of cellphone video capturing the "Political Reality" of the Democrats running out trhe clock on that session. Of course Perry got his way just weeks later when the GOP-run legislature passed the law anyway.

The point I'm trying to make is that the reality does change by the minute in our climate, but judging by the 2012 Presidential election results, the people really do want their elected officials to do what is best for everyone and not just the priviledged few who have money.

The polls indicated a lack of appreciation by the public for that $24 billion shutdown and lack of activity by Congress. Eric Cantor has the task of setting the House calendar. In 2013 the House was in session under 140 days. Cantor scheduled 2014 for....114 days total. 

Since the Republicans and John Boehner don't want to be judged on how many laws they pass rather "How many laws we repeal," I would be guessing it will catch up to them in November and Boehner will be ousted when the Democrats take over the House.

That is political Reality in my opinion.

Dec. 13, 2013

One day my dad said, "Find someone new"/I had to tell my Jimmy, we're through/(What you mean when you say that/You better go find somebody new?)/He stood there and asked me why, all I could do was cry/I'm sorry, I hurt you, the leader of the pack
("Leader of the Pack" by Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwhich/Shadow Morton)

John Boehner has been U.S. Speaker of the House since January, 2011 and a major player in the GOP for many years before that. He has experienced many ups and downs, even losing a leadership role in 1998 and re-emerging bigger and stronger less than 10 years later.

In most circles, that would be known as a political success story. In 2013, he is presiding over the worst single House of Represntatives in the history of the Union. Boehner at one point declared "It's not how many laws we pass, but how many we repeal."

Boehner may have executed his finest moment as House Speaker on December 11 when he blasted the right wing groups who decided to grade Paul Ryan & Patty Murray's bi-partisan budget deal even before the deal was announced. Boehner shrewdly picked a battle blasting groups like Club for Growth, Heritage Action, FreedomWorks and others simply for criticizing the deal "...Even before reading it."

Boehner had been beholden to these groups since January, 2011 once he realized that these groups controlled the purse strings of many members of the Tea Party caucus.

Enter Paul Ryan. The same Paul Ryan who the Tea Party members love so dearly. He is the bridge between the establishment GOP members and the Tea Party wackos. Many right wing GOP elected members consider Ryan "Their Jesus."

Ryan was able (with Dem. Leader Pelosi's help) to sell this small budget deal to the House just before the Christmas break. Ryan is close with Boehner and Eric Cantor.

So what does this all mean in 2014?

Here is what I think.

Ryan will end up leading the Republican party when John Boehner steps down and retires. The end may be coming sooner than later for Boehner. He will try to get a few "Legacy" pieces of legislation passed in 2014 and then NOT run for re-election. This will cause a rift between Eric Cantor (the heir apparent) and Paul Ryan if the Republicans manage to hang on to the House of Representatives. That is no sure thing with this latest government shutdown putting many seats (including Ryan's) in peril.

Ryan is so popular among rand and file Republicans and Tea Party crazies, but his state of Wisconsin is Blue in some respects. Obama carried it and Governor Scott Walker is a Republican, but the social issues like women's reproductive rights and voter suppression have been damaging the Republican brand.

I believe Ryan will survive his re-election AND be elected by his peers to lead the GOP Caucus in the house. Eric Cantor will have to stick around and support Ryan and then we shall see if Ryan leverages his good fortune into a run for the White House.

There are a lot of problems brewing in Republican nation with Chris Christie embroiled in his petty retribution scandal involving the Fort Lee bridge from last September. Christie will have to answer for his suboordinate closing that bridge for 4 days to punish the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee who would not endorse Christie for governor, despite Christie's huge lead in the polls at the time.

Paul Ryan may come out of this episode smelling the best. He can shift enough to the center after the primaries in 2016, BECAUSE he already has conservative credentials AND he has now showed a willingness to govern and compromise.

Paul Ryan is 'THE LEADER OF THE PACK" in GOP-Land. That is not saying much, but it is something.

Nov. 28, 2013

"Anytime I hear political adversaries use terms like Hitler, Munich, Nazis and appeasement in their argument, I know they are losing the argument so they have to resort to those scare tactics." (Marc Platt, November 2014)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helped get a deal in place with Iran to curb their nuclear program "in the most effective way: We did it through diplomacy" he said.

Israel obviously is holding their breath that  the regime in Iran really will stick to this and not do what North Korea did when they were actually aided by President Bill Clinton in their build-up.

This unilateral agreement is for 6 months and it entails America to EASE sanctions that have been in effect since 1979 when Jimmy Carter experienced his presidency-ending Hostage Crisis.

What I see happening is Iran is them coming in from the cold. They have experienced a crippling economy and hard times for many years. The 2009 Uprising was just the start of their realization that the people need their government to listen to their needs.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seems to be a very progressive politician who wants to thrive and survive.  Look for Iran to become a player in many ways in the new world. This is not Chamberlain at Munich. This is not appeasement. This is what President Obama promised he would do in 2008 when he first ran for President of the U.S. 

I am very pro Israel, but that doesn't mean I shut my options off at "Them or Us."  That is not what America is really about.  Americans (as of this writing) favor this deal by a 2-to-1 margin.  

There have been rumblings from Israeli generals and politicians behind the scenes who have been in favor of at least seeing what the next six months bring.  Benjamin Netanyahu makes his "public' pronouncements of this being a "Bad Deal," but he has toned it down.

Do not think that President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu haven't been communicating all along. Israel is one of AMERICA'S STRONGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT ALLIES. Just know that while these two are not good friends, they do work together for the betterment of their respective countries.

This is not unlike Obama's relationship with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.  Mr. Obama has a thick skin. He knows that these two guys will blast him publicly, but they are still able to do their jobs behind the scenes.|

My suggestion to my less progressive friends...Wait six months and see if this deal starts to work out. If it does, then look for the Syrian Civil War to end as well. Iran has a great amount of influence in Syria. Bashir Al Asaad takes many of his cues from Iran. 

We all knew going in to Obama's second term the middle east would be his biggest concern. That has started to pan out, but he seems to be up to the challenge.  Hillary Clinton did a solid job setting the table and now John Kerry is executing President Obama's second term agenda diplomatically.

I have heard a lot of conservative people continually warning us not to underestimate Iran and their "Manifest Destiny" and terroristic tendancies. What if Iran really wants to come in from the cold?

I would warn those conservatives...Do not underestimate our Nobel Peace Prize winning President Barack Obama and his diplomatic core. I believe in this case, we are in good hands.

Nov. 13, 2013

In 2010 Christine O’Donnell emerged from Delaware as a senatorial candidate and changed the political landscape in America. O’Donnell was the first Tea Party  candidate for a major Senate seat without any real legislative accomplishments, but because of her conservative activism was able to garner financial support enough to defeat former Delaware Governor Mike Castle in the primaries. O’Donnell has had a reputation of radical religious anti-abortion views after her failed acting career ended. She was clearly not as qualified as Mr. Castle, but that didn’t stop Wall Street from supporting her bid. She won the primary and that served notice.

This race really serves as a reminder to all moderate Republican candidates across the board in all elections now. O’Donnell lost the general election, but the damage was done.

The entire Republican political landscape is now predicated on the fear of moderate Republicans fearing a “Primary from the Right.” It has crippled the U.S. political system in that the 30-40 far-right Tea Party House of Representatives basically control the house and have hogtied Speaker John Boehner since they took over the House in January, 2011 with a GOP majority.

This has thrown a monkey wrench into the current political landscape. The Tea Party element in the House was responsible, along with Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz in the summer of 2013. Speaker John Boehner was unable to rein this element of his GOP Party.

In the fall of 2013 South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsay Graham threatened to put  a Senate Hold on all confirmations unless the Obama administration complies with his requests to the administration: “So I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors  are being made available to Congress.” 

It just so happens that a move like this helps Graham in his….Everybody….2014 Senate Republican primary in South Carolina. His opponent SC State Senator Lee Bright is a Tea Party candidate who called Graham "community organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood."

Graham has to maneuver his way through changing South Carolina politics, while doing his job in Washington D.C. The radical right candidates continue to  hammer away at the Washington insiders with disdain and they really don’t hold back as Lee Bright showed us with this name calling. It is only the tip of the iceberg for what will happen all the way up through the 2016 Presidential election.

The standard-bearing Republicans like McCain, Corker, Ayotte and Graham are finding themselves in a position of retreat when it comes to Tea Party abuse.  Their own survival depends on them flip flopping on issues they had championed in the past.

Florida Junior Senator Marco Rubio spent the spring and summer of 2013 championing and creating an Immigration Policy that passed the U.S. Senate.  Rubio immediately started getting flak from the Tea Party members of his caucus and outside far right wing groups that fund many Tea Party activities. On October 28, 2013 Rubio started backing away from his own policy saying he now favors “The House Bil,” which is more radical and was not even scheduled to come up for a vote at the end of 2013.

The Tea Party has crippled all legislation and functioning of the U.S. government. The Senate Tea Party members like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have led the charge to cripple the Obama administration and its signature legislative achievement The Affordable Care Act. Obamacare has its own problems with a shaky website rollout for implementation, but the GOP is hammering away at the law itself and the fine print issues that are coming up.

American citizens are pulling out their hair coming to grips with this new way of governing and poor communication by its leadership. Political agendas seem to overcrowd good governance in this decade of what I call “Governmental Incompetance.” The system is broken and the only real solution is the American people electing Democrats in all the branches.

In California, all three branches are Democratically run and the economy is thriving. California alone makes up what is equal to the eighth largest economy in the world.  The U.S., Japan, Germany, China, United Kingdom, France and Italy are larger. In California, most government agencies work flawlessly and the Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has a hands on relationship with the legislature and they are able to get legislation on the books easily.

If the GOP were as interested in good governance, I would have no problem voting for them, but right now there are very few NEW GOP candidates that have shown interest in helping our citizens. They have been about stopping the government.

In the 1980’s Ronald Reagan made his name on getting government out of our way, when in actuality he made government bigger during his tenure. Bush Sr. held that line. Bill Clinton shrunk it down by downsizing our military during peace time. George W. Bush built up the government to levels never seen before with two wars that were being outsourced on a government credit card.

The current administration has been forced by the obstructionist GOP to downsize the U.S. government to its lowest levels in 50 years. Sequestration cuts across the board are partially responsible, but Obama himself has had an attitude of stinginess when it comes to government spending.

The biggest single issue that separates the two parties would be entitlement programs like Welfare and Social Security. Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan has advocated privatizing entitlement programs and having school voucher programs throughout the land. The Democrats are staunchly against this approach. The rubber hits the road between Tea Party officials and moderate Republicans.

The big question that will have to be answered by the 2016 Presidential election is whether moderate Republicans will be swayed by the Tea Party enough in this area? Will the House turn over to the Democrats and give them all three branches? Will that possible development make the final two years of President Obama’s administration end his 2nd term with a flurry of big ticket items such as Immigration and gun reform?

There is a lot at stake in the next few years. Never has one party had so much impact so quickly on our public as the Tea Party. Every candidate in that party fears getting a primary challenge from candidates to their right. The question here is when will that NOT be an issue for Republicans? What will it take to change this dynamic in our country?

It is unlikely that we will see another African American president in the next two election cycles, so how far will this movement go? They sprung up in outrage of their “Country getting taken over.” The Tea Party and “Birther Movement” continually tried to de-legitimizing President Obama, accusing him of “Not Really Being an American” and other signs seen at Tea Party rallies.

I realize that all presidents are vilified by the opposition. This has been going on for centuries, but something seems just a little more vial in the profiling of President Obama by his opposition. Call it racist, call it disrespectful, but at least respect the office of President of the United States.  

We are definitely living in the most polarized political environment since the civil war and the more radical right people make a lot of noise riling up their base with a lot of subtle, but racist rhetoric. Until someone stands up to them, they will continue.

Wall Street is partially responsible for the Tea Party in that they funded them. Now the Tea Party House Republicans repaid them by shutiing down the government and almost defaulting by not paying the bills congress racked up in the most-recent Debt Ceiling debacle. Now we are beginning to see a crack in their armor. Wall Street is starting to pull away from the Tea Party monster and will likely back more moderate Republicans, even some Democrats. Stay tuned.

Nov. 6, 2013

Presidents lie. The degree of the lies can all be subjective based on your political leanings, but the fact is they lie.

I leave it to you to decide the severity of these "LIES."  While I am not happy that President Obama regurgitated his "LIE" hundreds of times on the campaign trail and the ACA Campaign, only history will determine if the claim he continually made about people keeping their old plans even comes close to these other ones:

“The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians.”  (Harry S. Truman, 1945)

“I have previously stated and I repeat now that the United States intends no military intervention in Cuba.” (John F. Kennedy, 1961)

"I am not a crook." (Richard M. Nixon, 1973)

“We did not — repeat — did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages — nor will we.” (Ronald Reagan, 1987)

“I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” (Bill Clinton, 1996)

"the Indians in general, receding farther and farther to the west, have retained their savage habits." (Andrew Jackson, 1829)

"If you like your old health insurance policy, you can keep it." (Barack Obama, many times from 2009-2013)

George W. Bush and Iraq in 2003:

"Saddam's removal is necessary to eradicate the threat from his weapons of mass destruction"

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

"You remember when [Secretary of State] Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons ...They're illegal. They're against the United Nations resolutions, and we've so far discovered two...And we'll find more weapons as time goes on And we'll find more weapons as time goes on"