Tag Archives: john boehner

Manufactured Crisis Averted

1 Aug

HT Marquil at EmpireWire.com.

Without analyzing a debt/deficit/spending/cuts deal that was cut just yesterday and I haven’t had an opportunity to review, I continually ask myself over these last several days why Washington is so willing to cut on the backs of the elderly, the poor, and the middle class, and why it so adamantly refuses to ask the very wealthy to pay, e.g., what they paid in income taxes back during the roaring 90s.

What will the tea party fad be replaced by, and when?

The Death of Compromise

29 Jul

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) breaks down what’s going on right now in Washington, as Speaker John Boehner (OH-8) can’t get his caucus to back a horrible plan to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling, but re-engage in this process in 6 months – a plan that won’t see the light of day in the Senate.

One of the stories coming out of last night’s aborted vote indicated that cuts would be further sharpened, affecting Pell Grants.

The differences couldn’t be more stark now: the Republicans, led by the tail by the tea party, want to further hurt the poor and middle class in order to ensure that the wealthy are protected. The Democrats, led weakly by an increasingly feckless President, want to further hurt the poor and middle class by cutting federal Medicare and Social Security entitlements and gently repeal the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

This – and the death of compromise – is why the #fuckyouWashington hashtag has become so popular on Twitter.

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The Republican Rift, the PPP Poll #NY26

23 May

Is Phil Corwin Pissed?

That’s the claim being made in this blog post that was emailed to me yesterday. While the facts are a bit sloppy (e.g., the Channel 2 debate was held at 9am, not 12pm), it wouldn’t at all surprise me if the Corwins were caught unawares by the dirty trickery of the Collins brain trust, and blew their chance to prevent the Mallia fiasco from becoming a 2 week-long story.

Corwin’s Chief of Staff Mike Mallia’s weak attempt of a video ambush of Davis on the night of May 11th occurred without Corwin having any knowledge of the plan. The scheme was hatched by Chris Collin’s COS Chris Grant and endorsed by Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy. The video was then put on YouTube and hit the late news, but Corwin had gone to bed early due to the noon debate on Ch 2 the next day. Phil Corwin saw the video clip but failed to tell his wife in the morning, fearing it would distract her. Corwin was clueless when she was approached by reporters in the Ch 2 parking lot after the debate because not one staff member had bothered to tell her what had transpired.

and

Corwin is also coming under fire for not cutting loose Malia and separating herself from such a frat house stunt. The issue there is that Malia was just following orders and would probably go public on Chris Grant with all of the sordid details if he were to be fired.

It goes on to allege that Phil Corwin may begin publicly excoriating Collins and his minions should Jane lose on Tuesday.

The rift in the Erie County Republican Party is deepening, and while they’re putting on a very thin front of unity for now, it looks like Collins has become the Republicans’ Steve Pigeon – another tinpot Machiavelli looking to grow and consolidate power at the expense of the old guard, embodied by people like Tom Reynolds.

First Siena, Now PPP

Another poll was released last night showing Kathy Hochul with 42%, Jane Corwin with 36%, and Jack Davis with 13%.  The results of this poll very closely mirror the Siena poll released on Saturday.  Hochul is up 7%, Corwin is up 5%, and Davis is down a whopping 11%.  Also similarly to the Siena poll, Hochul’s favorability is +14 while Corwin’s is -18, down 15 points in just two weeks. Whereas Davis’ favorability/unfavorability was even at 43/43 two weeks ago, he’s now -39!

Corwin’s camp knew it would have to deal with a Tea Party line Jack Davis in this race, and assumed that if they hammered away at him for being weak Tea, those voters would break for Corwin.  But because Corwin has run a campaign that is only competent at incompetence, and because she has adopted extreme and radical positions not followed by voters in the district, those people have instead gone to Hochul in droves.  Hochul is drawing more Republican support than Corwin is drawing Democrats, and independents are relatively evenly split, with the advantage going to Hochul by +2.

PPP says that voters it surveyed think the Republican majority in Congress is doing a worse job than its predecessor.  It also found that, while NY-26 doesn’t like Obama, it dislikes John Boehner more. That’s a huge Corwin miscalculation, bringing him to town to campaign with her. Every time someone links Hochul with Pelosi, that isn’t as bad as it would be to link Corwin with Boehner.  Finally, Democrats in the district are more enthusiastic about voting for Hochul  than Republicans are about Corwin.

Probably because Hochul hasn’t been running a relentlessly negative, extreme campaign of dirty tricks. Davis would probably be doing a bit better if he had better advice and wasn’t being advised by sycophants and guys who never won a race.  The PPP results show huge dissatisfaction with Washington. Davis is making little headway on what should be – but isn’t – his big issue.

Hochul’s in the lead, but there’s no guarantee she’ll win. It all comes down to turnout and whose get out the vote effort is better.

 

Corwin’s Brazen Hail Mary #NY26

20 May

Photo credit: blog.nj.com

Today was the day.

Today was the day that someone finally went about and politicized the crash of Flight 3407.

The tragic, preventable accident happened in Clarence Center in February 2009, and through all the heartache and pain, through all the tireless investigation and recommended changes to air safety regulations, every single elected official touching this thing made sure that their efforts were about helping the families directly affected by that tragedy, and helping to ensure that events like this are prevented however possible. That means more training for pilots, more rest for pilots, clearer notification of codeshare flights on regional airlines, etc.

All of the elected officials involved in the effort to support air industry changes sought by the 3407 families have avoided playing politics with this.  They have avoided taking individual credit for any of it – this was a team effort, and everyone was on the same team.

It has brought together with a unity of direction, action, and goal, such politically diverse people as Louise Slaughter and Chris Lee; Brian Higgins and Chris Collins. Our US Senators have likewise tirelessly advocated on behalf of the 3407 families.  This was a multipartisan effort, blind to political whims and prejudices. And while, yes, all of these people seek re-election, none of them have tried to upstage the other. All of them share in this battle; all of them cheer its successes as one, and they decry its failures as one.

It wasn’t until Jane Corwin, with help from Speaker John Boehner, that someone sought such blatantly direct political credit for a 3407-related win. And at such a pivotal time.

Make no mistake – Corwin is hoping that this does for her what the October Storm did for Tom Reynolds.

Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Schuster, a Republican, had been pushing an amendment to an FAA reauthorization bill which would have made it far more difficult to enforce the changes that the 3407 families had sought, fought for, and won through the political process.  Today, he abruptly withdrew his support for that amendment, and Jane Corwin was the first to know.  Schuster called her. Boehner was ready with a press release. This was a calculated politicization of the 3407 tragedy, and it represents Jane Corwin making a brazen attempt to take credit for the work of the entire Western New York federal delegation.  Here is the full text of Corwin’s press release, sent Friday morning at 11:08 AM:

“I just received a call from Congressman Bill Shuster. He informed me that he asked Chairman of the House Transportation Committee John Mica to withdraw his amendment from consideration in the conference committee.

“The Flight 3407 Families have been a driving force to implement long-overdue aviation safety reforms. These actions are proof that a community can come together and make a difference.

“The fight to fully implement these much-needed reforms has just begun, and I will continue to work to implement ‘one level of safety’ in our skies.”

Statement from John Kausner, who lost his 24-year old daughter Ellyce in the Flight 3407 tragedy:

“We are very pleased to hear that the Shuster provision has been dropped from the FAA Reauthorization Bill.

“We are very appreciative of Jane Corwin for supporting us and arranging the meeting with Speaker Boehner, and to the Speaker for hearing us out on the significant safety issues associated with the provision, especially with regards to the objections to it by the NTSB and FAA.

“We also would be remiss if we did not thank the entire Western New York congressional delegation and everyone else in Congress who came out against this provision and supported us from the get-go.

“We must remain vigilant as we move forward to ensure that the FAA is allowed to effectively implement the bipartisan aviation safety legislation from last Congress.”

Of course, the rest of the delegation – which has been working full time on this issue for months while Jane has been NOWHERE on it – was caught unawares.  Being good representatives, and good citizens, they praised the outcome. After all, that good result is tantamount in importance.  But the lobbying to get this done has been constant and incessant from all sides.

Why exactly did Schuster pick today to take this action? Why was the first person who learned of it Jane Corwin, of all people? Why didn’t anyone actually in Congress representing WNY get word of this first?

What this smacks of is a ploy by the Republicans to artificially maintain the Schuster amendment in the FAA reauthorization bill until the Friday before the special election. Then Schuster could withdraw it, and Corwin could make a splash with it, essentially donning the mantle of NY-26 representative without first being elected or inaugurated.

While I also am  pleased with the outcome, I am absolutely disgusted by this blatant politicization of this tragedy, I am flabbergasted by the grandstanding by this empty campaign, and horrified that this all may have been timed in a very politically calculated way.  Jane Corwin and John Boehner should be ashamed of themselves. Schuster should be ashamed of himself for promoting the watering-down of air safety regulations.

Here, contrasting Corwin’s self-promotion, is Kathy Hochul’s press release (1:23 pm):

“Today’s victory is not a Democratic or Republican victory, it is a victory for our entire community and the families of Flight 3407.  The Shuster amendment would have put our nation and citizens at risk, and undone so much of the hard work that these families have put forth to increase airline safety.  We should all join together and applaud the reversal of this terrible legislation.  Once elected to Congress I will continue to work to ensure that these families’ voices are heard and this legislation is never again revisited.”

“I’d like to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and Representatives Higgins and Slaughter for all of their hard work on behalf of the 3407 families. I look forward to continuing to join them in that work in Congress.”

Higgins (12:04pm):

“This is welcome news for the Flight 3407 Families, Western New Yorkers and all Americans concerned with aviation safety. It means the reforms and safety improvements we fought so hard for last year will be implemented. Defeating this amendment was a bipartisan effort that I was proud to help lead. I will continue to be vigilant on this matter until we confirm that this damaging amendment is in fact ultimately and officially dropped from the bill and all of our aviation safety reforms are implemented in full.”

The Shuster Amendment was adopted during House consideration of the FAA Authorization bill in April. It would have required a number of duplicative and difficult reviews before the aviation safety reforms Congress passed last year could be implemented. These reforms, signed into law last August, will improve pilot rest and training requirements, two major factors in the crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo in February 2009.

Some work hard and rise above the fray. Others take personal credit for things that have very suspicious timing.

They Couldn’t Get Debby?

6 May

It was supposed to be another coronation of another million-heir; she was going to be a less trannyphile version of Chris Lee, whisked into office by an apathetic Republican-leaning voting population.

It’s not going that well. The wunderkinds behind the Collins and Lee victories seem to be having some difficulties revisiting their “run ____ like a business” mojo.

And it’s not just the fact that Corwin is so spooked by Hochul that she’s run a relentlessly negative campaign of lies against her, nor is it just the fact that Corwin is so spooked by Davis that she’s running negative TV spots against him and trying to tie him to Nancy Pelosi (of all people!)

It’s because she and her campaign have either solicited, or are otherwise proud to publicize the endorsement of this guy:

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Legendary entertainer Pat Boone, national spokesman for a non-partisan senior citizen group, announced today that Jane Corwin has won the 60 Plus Association’s Honorary Guardian of Seniors’ Rights award. Corwin is a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York’s 26th District.

Boone, still performing at concerts, was a recording, movie and TV star with over 45 million records sold and 38 top 10 hits during his career. In the 1950’s he was second only to Elvis Presley in record sales. Now the national spokesman for 60 Plus, Boone labeled Corwin a “fighter for the elderly.”

The Association’s Guardian Award is presented to Democrats and Republicans in Congress based on their “senior friendly” voting records. The Honorary Award is given to those running for office and is based on their views on seniors’ issues.

“I’m still singing at concerts,” Boone said in a prepared statement, “but today I’m singing the praises of Jane Corwin who can always be counted on to protect Social Security and Medicare while also working to reduce the federal budget deficit. Jane Corwin will be a tax cutter, protecting the pocket books of senior citizens. 60 Plus calls on nearly 7.5 million seniors nationally for support and so I believe I can speak on behalf of seniors when I say that they can count on Jane Corwin. Clearly, seniors will have no finer friend in the U.S. House of Representatives than Jane Corwin.”

Previous recipients of the award from New York include Representatives Peter King (R-3), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-25), and former Representative Tom Reynolds of the 26th District. 60 Plus presents pro-seniors awards on a bi-partisan basis. Past recipients include U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and U.S. Representative and Congressional Black Caucus member William Lacy Clay (D-MO).

The 60 Plus Association is a 19-year-old nonpartisan organization working for death tax repeal, saving Social Security, affordable prescription drugs, lowering energy costs and other issues featuring a less government, less taxes approach as well as a strict adherence to the Constitution.  60 Plus calls on support from over 7 million activists.  60 Plus publishes a newsletter, SENIOR VOICE, and a Scorecard, bestowing awards on lawmakers of both parties who vote “pro-senior.”   60 Plus has been called, “an increasingly influential senior citizen’s group” and since 1992 “the conservative alternative to the AARP.”

HE’S STILL SINGING AT CONCERTS, OK?!

I mean, at least Debby Boone had a hit in 1977 with her love song to God. Pat Boone hasn’t had a hit since 1961.

That’s the best she can do in terms of walking back her vocal support of the Paul Ryan Medicare-killing Republican budget. That’s the best she can do to try and reverse the fact that she stuck her neck out to back a piece of idiotic political suicide – a proposal to abolish Medicare as we know it, thus breaching the social contract with tens of millions of Americans under 55 – and just this week Eric Cantor and John Boehner both acknowledged that it’s a non-starter and that they won’t be pursuing it.  (Cantor and Boehner’s weak and clumsy “leadership” is striking, given the way in which their caucus has relentlessly accused the Obama administration for being wishy-washy).

The endorsement of Pat Boone – right-wing fan of abolishing Medicare – isn’t really going to resonate with seniors, I think, and every senior on the campaign trail should be relentlessly pressing Corwin on why exactly she thinks voucherizing one of the most popular, efficient, and successful social programs in the country is a good idea.

It’s almost axiomatic that politicians shouldn’t mess with seniors, because they vote. Smart Republicans would be targeting Medicaid, because the people it serves have much less political juice. Because that’s what they do.

Perhaps there’s a voucher that can fix Corwin’s feckless campaign for a weak and formulaic candidate.

The Election Season is Dead! Long Live the Election Season!

4 Nov

The fever wave gripped the nation far tighter than New York. As we head to a Thompson-Grisanti recount and a potentially split New York Senate, Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins, Slaughter and Cuomo all cruised to their successes. Democrats nationally faired far worse.

Chris Smith recently asked where the GOP, in full embrace with the Tea Party, was ultimately headed. He projected a possible southern, regional party of dissention first. One hesitates to read too much into a single election, but the results on Tuesday were broad and deep. In Pennsylvania, where President Obama won by 10 points in 2008, Republicans gained the Governor’s mansion, a US Senate seat, four US House reps, and took over both chambers of the state legislature. That is Pennsylvania, not Texas, North Carolina or Oklahoma. Obama’s home state of Illinois went red, and brought Iowa, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin with it. When over 60 House and 7 (8 maybe) Senate seats are gained, few regions are spared. Republicans also gained big in state legislatures, so much post-census re-districting will be gerrymandered in their favor.

“How could this happen?” ask the Democratic faithful. The answer is easy, and based upon soon-to-be Speaker Boehner’s first public statements, he understands. First, accurately interpret the message of the electorate. President Obama was elected to bring competent government, after the debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, and Katrina. Change was a Change to good government. Second, deliver on the platform you were elected on, even if it is slightly different than the one you ran on. Obama spent his political capital on healthcare, but a $2.8 Trillion budget deficit over two years does not look like progress, it looks like incompetence. Enter Tuesday Night.

So what now? Three thoughts:

Hope that Boehner and Obama learn to enjoy a martini together. It was my prediction that the worst possible scenario was a Republican House, but a Democratic Senate and White House. Each side could blame the other, shun governance, and wait it out to 2012. Now that we are there, then the best we can hope for is that Boehner and Obama develop a Reagan/O’Neill relationship, and the Senate is ignored. If Harry Reid, despite the odds, stays Majority Leader, then he should be marginalized. If Schumer challenges and becomes Majority Leader, then he would happily join the two-some, and there is a chance bills leave conference committee and make it to the President’s desk.

Don’t fear the money. Meg Whitman spent $150 million and lost the governorship of California. Linda McMahon spent $50 million in Connecticut and lost. Tim Keane, DNC chairman, roamed the cable new airwaves (oxymoron?) Tuesday night complaining that $64 million was spent by unknown groups on attack ads against Democratic Senate candidates. $64 million. Avant cost more than $64 million. $64 million is a down payment on Canalside. $64 million is a pittance by any national standard. And in any case, money may be speech, but it clearly is not votes.  

Will the Tea Party amoeba “learn” from its overreach. At what point did a fight against deficits require a litmus test of one’s Birther credentials, or a call for Second Amendment Remedies? The most egregious Tea Party recruits, and the Sarah Palin picks – O’Donnell, Angle, Miller in Alaska – all lost. A small second tier of fringe candidates – Rand Paul – won. The big Tea Party successes were in the House, where some more extreme candidates made the cut. This should not be overplayed, however, as it is not a unique Tea Party phenomenon. A couple off candidates make it every cycle (Grayson from Florida, anyone).

Several exit polls indicate the number one voter concern is deficits. If the Republicans grab this Tea Party issue (while somehow managing to restrain themselves from the Muslim sleeper agent talk), and embrace it with the President’s Debt Commission, then we have a rare chance to address long term entitlement spending. Of the 428 non-incumbents running this year for seats in the House, the number one background of candidates (109) was “small business owner.” As the White House is long on academics, and short on practitioners, the Republicans could do well to harness some of the new budget acumen that the freshman are eager to display. And this new Chris Collins-esque national image makeover is already beginning. Haley Barbour, astute Republican governor of Mississippi, said yesterday that Republicans are the party of small-business, but there is no party of Wall Street or Big Business. Wall Street always goes with the winner. Ask Cuomo.

Two years ago I predicted the Republicans would Clinton-fy, eschew Palin, and tack to the center. I was wrong, but maybe not entirely. It was a predictable outcome that Republicans would go more anti-Centrist McCain after the 2008 loss, but a two year flirtation with Palin is not yet played out. If the worst of the Palin-promoted fringe candidates are left in the rearview mirror, and fiscal conservatism alone is what rules the day, then Obama, Boehner, and America’s budgets will be the beneficiaries.

Not Like This

14 Sep

It’s Primary Day in New York State. Soon we’ll know how far to the Right the GOP has tacked in yet another state. The results, in other states until now, have been extreme. I’m a Republican, and even Conservative once in a while, and I want my party to win elections and policy debates. But I don’t want to win like this.

I’d like John Beohner to be the new Speaker of the House come November (and if you want any legislation passed between Nov 2010 and Nov 2012, you should too, but that’s another article for another time). But I don’t want to elect 50 Tea Partiers to make it happen.

I want to retake the US Senate as well. But we should do it with seven Scott Brown’s, not seven Sharron Angle’s.

I want the Islamic Community Center at Park51 to consider other buildings sites, that weren’t hit by aircraft debris in the 9/11 attacks. But I don’t want Muslim taxi drivers slashed, existing mosques to be intimidated, and property at mosque construction sites around the country to be attacked to make it happen. 

The country needs to have a discussion about Islam in America, nine year late. There has been no rise in this country of extremist Islamic-related violence, such as honor killings and female genital mutilation. There have been no open street riots of young Muslim men, as in France and other parts of Europe. Yes, there have been several attempted high profile terrorist attacks, but no more lately than in the last 20 years. There has been no new information that American Muslims are unable to integrate in our ethnic tossed salad. And yet, Islamophobes and their motivated apologist adversaries are waging a screaming match at the fringes out of touch with reality. But which responsible national figure can speak? President Obama can try, and should, but will be ignored (at best) or derided (not quite the worst) by the 58% of Americans who mistakenly believe he himself is secretly Muslim, or at least not Christian. How can you start an open and honest discussion when so many think you’re hiding something. But what Republican figure can speak? Guiliani? I don’t know.

The Republican Party is a rudderless ship. I do not believe Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are the leaders of my party. But that argument is harder and harder to make when the stage is bare. Nature famously abhors a vacuum. If Mitch McConnell or John McCain (or . . . . who?) doesn’t step forward to lead this party, then Palin runs it by default.

George W. Bush looks like Winston Churchill compared to the quality of leadership we have now. Ahh, the good old days, when Bush could barely speak, but also made it clear the United States was at war with Al Qaeda, not the entire Muslim faith, and certainly not the average Muslim American citizen, working a job and sending his kids to school like everyone else. President Obama says that we are not at war with Islam. True, but unhelpful. The better question is, how much of Islam is at war with us? Its a question no politician openly asks or answers.

Instead, Rush and Beck and Palin (and doubly unfortunate, Gingrich too) deliberately misinform, and are exceedingly unhelpful in the process of people of reasonable intent trying to make a good faith effort to solve delicate problems. There is no adult to tell them to shut up. So they prattle on.

Imagine if the Park51/Ground Zero Mosque debate had gone something like this:

A middle-of-the-road Imam (which means probably too conservative and Pro-Arab for the average American, but certainly not a threat or danger or deserving of mistrust) wishes to build a community center near Ground Zero. While a naturalized American citizen, he misreads popular culture, and the effect this will have. The building touches a delicate, sensitive nerve. Maybe not a nerve everyone is proud of, but nerve none the less. Where could this have gone?

We won’t know, because it has descended into screaming matches, protests, rallies, and a race to the bottom in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

A leader would recognize the legitimate issue beneath the raw nerves and affronted feelings. That issue: what is sacred? How did New York City decide one patch of ground was sacred (the site of the two towers), and other ground was not? Whether this question was assumed, misunderstood, glossed over, debated, or not considered at all, it was at least not adequately answered. Imam Rauf, among others, has noted the strip clubs and OTB parlors nearby, and asks how a house of prayer can be any worse. Good point, but it doesn’t change the fact that many NYers want to have a debate now, after nine years of rebuilding and not when the strip club reopened, about what is sacred. They are the general public – they get a do-over. Now, what to do about it?

A leader would find a compromise. Mine? Form a commission of victim’s families, religious leaders of all faiths, local community leaders, and the National Park Service. Have them discuss (or re-discuss) what is the sacred ground of the 9/11 attack. Just the WTC? Any building hit by parts of a plane? Any building with human remains? How small? The Park Service is there to professionally lead the discussion, since they have experience caring for sacred sites across the US. The others are there to make the decision. Once a site is deemed sacred, they decide what to do about it. Kick out the current tenants, strip clubs and betting parlors first? If they could “clean up” Times Square in the interest of tourism alone, they can figure out a way to do this. Grandfather existing businesses in? Write new zoning laws? Open the door wide again to any legitimate business, reflecting the reality of a busy lower Manhattan? That would be up the commission to decide. But whatever the decision, the community would finally have the conversation that obviously has been simmering and waiting to happen. I am normally not a fan of busy-body citizen boards and endless public hearings. But if Buffalo can discuss Canalside for ten years, and then start over from the drawing board to chat all over again, then an issue this big deserves time it hasn’t had.

Will this happen? Of course not. The rudderless ship of my party does not have the imagination, political capital, or courage to do it. The Democrats would never give up their righteous indignation or self-identified moral high ground to have such a discussion. The fringes will argue until the issue fades after the November election, and die with a whimper when there isn’t enough money to build Park51 anyway.

Quote of the Week

25 Mar

From Ohio Representative Steve Driehaus:

“Leader Boehner suggested that if I vote yes on this bill and go home to the west side of Cincinnati, that I could be a dead man…. It really calls into question his ability to lead. He should be a statesman.”

Driehaus confronted Boehner about the interview on the floor of the House. “I told him it was inexcusable,” Driehaus said. “It doesn’t really matter the way you meant it, nor the way I accept it. It’s how the least sane person in my district accepts it.