Dean’s Comeback or Healthcare Reform Slowdown?

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on March 26, 2009

images2Former DNC Chair Howard Dean found himself in a bizarre predicament at the end of the illustrious 2008 election cycle: on one hand he was credited with the re-emergence of Democrats in the 2006 mid-terms and the election of Barack Obama in ’08 – yet, on the other hand, he appeared (at least on the surface) to get little props from the new Administration when time arrived for recognition and reward.  He’s been in a sort of weird purgatory between being celebrated and being dissed.

However, recent reports suggest Dean is staging some sort of comeback.  Reports The Plum Line blog in

The campaign will be called “Stand With Dr. Dean,” and its immediate goal is to build up a membership of a quarter million in the next few months, relying on the million-strong email list of Democracy for America, Dean’s political operation. The eventual goal is to organize and door-knock to build support for the public insurance option in Congressional districts across the country, DFA executive director Arshad Hasan tells me.

Is this good news for healthcare reform or Howard Dean?  Dean may be more interested in staging his own comeback at this point – and it could be that he’s privately vexed that he wasn’t plucked for anything.  This could be a way to make that happen.  Interestingly enough, this also comes at a time when there are whispers on Capitol Hill that healthcare reform efforts may, once again, fall to the wayside if nothing is done in rapid fashion this year.  The popular political counter to movement on healthcare reform is that the President is doing too much, too fast.  Which may usher in a leveled conversation on piecemeal approaches focused on greater efficiency in health records management through massive and centralized IT solutions.  Political gut points to some desire from the corporate community to, at least, pilot an alternative health care system as a way to reduce overhead.  The economic downturn will encourage the business community to produce at leaner capacity – that means less private spending on health care when the government is showing an itch to spend instead.


GUEST BLOG – Garland Nixon on “Shredding the Constitution”

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on March 26, 2009

images11The Bush Administration was frequently lambasted by their left wing opposition for violating, or “shredding” as it was popular to say, the Constitution. It seemed that the Constitution was at times viewed by the Bush people as an impediment to achieving what they believed were honorable goals. It was blatantly obvious to Bush’s detractors, and a number of Federal Judges, that they crossed constitutional lines on a number of occasions.

The term “shredding the constitution” became popular when it became clear that the Bush Administration was deliberately taking unconstitutional actions, hiding them from the public and Congress, and showing utter contempt for those who dared to question their actions. The legal decisions on which they based their actions were generally hidden, and most have been labeled as absurd once reviewed by competent legal experts.

Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution is quite clear, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” An ex post facto law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of acts committed or the legal status of facts and relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law. A Bill of Attainder is an act of the legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial.

It seems that the “ends justifying the means” attitude in Washington did not leave when the Bush Family moved to Dallas. Congress has decided to take a page from the Bush Administration’s play book and deliberately violate the Constitution to achieve what they believe are honorable goals. In the political pandemonium that followed the revelations that AIG executives were taking huge lumps of taxpayer dollars in the form of bonuses in return for destroying the Company, Congress played the Bush card. They passed a law which retroactively taxes the unconscionable bonuses out of existence. Denying those who were either incompetent, unethical, or a combination of both the opportunity to fleece the US taxpayers is an honorable goal. However, Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 of the Constitution does not contain an exception for honorable goals. In a news interview, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) never defended the Constitutional footing of the law in question; he simply indicated that the aggrieved executives would have to take legal action to overturn it. This statement infers that he had full knowledge that the law was unconstitutional and that the intent was to force the intended targets to challenge the law in court and face the subsequent negative press.

Clearly the AIG Executives have not earned these massive bonuses. However, a Congress controlled by the Democrats has no more right to “Shred the Constitution” than a Presidential Administration controlled by Republicans. In both cases the Parties involved in the act either new, or should have known that their actions constituted a Constitutional violation. It appears that we have finally found common ground between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington.

GUEST BLOG: Garland Nixon on Steele’s Hip Hop Plan

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on March 17, 2009

images1In just a few short weeks Michael Steel has proven beyond a doubt that he is a hopelessly flawed leader with an impossible mission. In one of Mr. Steele’s first proposals, he has indicated that he plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract young Hispanics and Blacks. He has stated that he intends to apply conservative principles to urban hip hop settings. Mr. Steele appears to believe that he need only repackage his message in a way that will be more alluring to the demographic he desires to attract.

As has been most of the GOP strategies over the last several years, this one is remarkably flawed. Mr. Steele appears to believe that young Blacks and Hispanics attraction to the President is related to race and culture as opposed to policy. Were Mr. Steele truly in connection with that community he would have realized that President Obama is by no means a hip hop culture icon. President Obama is a supremely articulate Harvard Lawyer. The closest he comes to hip hop is wearing a designer business suit with no tie and his top button open. From the perspective of music culture, President Obama fits much better in the “jazz music cool” category than hip hop “off the hook”. We can much more easily picture our President wearing a pair of dark shades strumming a base guitar than we can wearing baggy jeans and gold chains spewing street slang.

Unfortunately for Mr. Steele, he must operate in an environment that will not, and can not admit that policy is the driving force behind President Obama’s youthful following. Admitting that “policy is the issue which creates the attraction” immediately begs the question whether the GOP is willing to question their current policies. Questioning GOP policies is extremely risky for Mr. Steele because the Party’s brittle dogmatic base may view that as treason and turn on him en masse. The GOP base, particularly the Southern Evangelicals, have equated their policies to a set of opaque moral values which ultimately means that questioning Party policy is an attack on morality from their perspective.

Chairman Steele is in an unenviable position. His Party obviously felt that the reactionary pick of a Black Committee Chairman to a Black President would counter the Democrats dominance in the Black community. His impossible job is to promote a set of policies designed to favor the wealthy and corporate class, placate the dogmatists, and attract people of color to a Party culturally associated with the Confederacy. Compounding Steele’s dilemma is the fact that his “less than stellar” political career indicates that he would likely struggle leading the GOP in the best of times.

Michael Steel may survive just long enough to be an effective scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, GOP leaders have discovered their error in assuming that choosing a Black Chairman would guarantee Black votes. They have also began to notice his conspicuously lacking administrative skills. It is not unreasonable to assume that a plan to unseat him has already been hatched and will be executed at first opportunity.

The irony in this political farce is that the anti-affirmative action Party selected a candidate for the RNC Chairmanship based almost solely on race and ended up with a seemingly incompetent Leader. Then again, maybe it was all just a devious well executed plan to discredit affirmative. Whatever the case, I doubt that Steele’s “off the hook” hip hop plan will either bear a great deal of fruit or save his job.