Saturday, January 30, 2010

SCOTUS, POTUS, SOTU And Q&A: What's It All Mean?

I apologize for the lack of posts as of late, my fellow Politcos. As a part-time blogger, and full-time mom & teacher, life's been particularly demanding the last week or two. And meanwhile, The Supreme Court goes bonkers, The President changes his focus and grows what appears to be a sizable pair, the State of The Union knocks our socks off, and Obama schools the GOP about the dangers of politics as usual..on the Tee Vee machine, no less! Good God, it's enough to make me want to quit my job and blog for a living!!! (Ah, maybe one day...) But I am back, Kids, so let's take it from the top:

1. SCOTUS: The Supreme Court Reverses 103 Years of Precedent and Sells Us Down The River

A long time ago, as a first year teacher, I won a national award and received a trip to Washington, D.C. - I simply can't think of a better prize for a nerdy-geeky-wonk like yours truly! (Okay, maybe to watch a filming of The Rachel Maddow my inner pundit showing???) In any case, I had the opportunity to visit the hallowed halls of our Supreme Court: walking under Lady Justice in her blindfold, holding her scales of justice high. And once inside the hushed chamber, there I stood in the place where so many of our legal precedents were set in stone:: Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, Roe v. Wade, and the list goes on, ad infinitum. I sat down in the front row, on long benches that felt more like pews than the gallery, thinking what a sacred and holy place this is to our democracy, in a very small "d" democracy way. The Supreme Court was my National Cathedral.

Fast-forward to the Election of 2000. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a statewide recount of Florida's ballots was unconstitutional. And they left their decision "Per Curiam," (by the court), a case in which the decision could not be used as precedent in future cases. In other words, they threw up a red flag indicating that the Court's bias was most definitely political; they knew the decision was morally and legally wrong. Despite the popular vote, the Democratic candidate chosen by the people was tossed aside to make way for the GOP Heir to The Throne. The Boy Prince. I felt disillusioned and truly betrayed by our system of justice, the highest court in the land. The Republican-stacked Supreme Court was no longer the bastion of democracy I'd believed, no longer the objective, blindfolded Justice in which I grew up to believe. 

Now, in 2010, we see the most recent decision by the court, another 5-4 decision, that is most literally the unraveling of the very fabric of our democracy. Ignoring a substantial body of precedent-setting decisions reaching as far back as 1907, The Supreme Court has now granted Corporations the same right to free speech as living, breathing members of our populace, the same rights as you and me; in fact, corporations both foreign and domestic, now have the power to direct our elections to the point of obliterating the vote of the individual. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stevens says it far better than I could ever dream of saying it:

Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law...The Court operates with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel when it strikes down one of Congress' most significant efforts to regulate the role that corporations and unions play in electoral politics. It compounds the offense by implicitly striking down a great many state laws as well. Going forward, corporations and unions will be free to spend as much general treasury money as they wish on ads that support or attack specific candidates, whereas national parties will not be able to spend a dime of soft money on ads of any kind. The Court's ruling thus dramatically enhances the role of corporations and unions-and the narrow interests they represent-vis-à-vis the role of political parties-and the broad coalitions they represent-in determining who will hold public office...The Framers thus took it as a given that corporations could be comprehensively regulated in the service of the public welfare...It might also be added that corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires. Corporations help structure and facilitate the activities of human beings, to be sure, and their "personhood" often serves as a useful legal fiction. But they are not themselves members of "We the People" by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.
This was a strategic path that the GOP has been fast-tracking through the courts, and if you look back over the route that this challenge took to get here, there are Rethuglican fingerprints all over it. God bless Justice Stevens and his other three dissenting Justices, for there would be no one to speak for us otherwise. But where are we to go from here when such a heinous decision has been rendered? Thankfully, there is still some measure of the system of checks and balances in play, and Barney Frank has come out fighting. He will be working through the legislative process to place limits on the rights of corporations to donate and influence elections. But can he get any workable measure through the present Congress? Well, that remains to be seen, as does the enormous effect this decision will have on even the 2010 midterms. Never thought I would live to see the day..."Of The Corporations, By The Corporations, For The Corporations" "E Corporatus Unum" My God.

2. POTUS: Health Care Reform on The Back Burner  So, earlier in the week, it looked as if President Obama was ready to toss the health care reform battle to the wayside. To paraphrase the pundits, we had the ball on the 1 yard line, and The President was ready to punt - even those of us who are entirely un-sports-minded get that analogy: do the work, push it through the line, and don't just toss it up for anyone to grab. It seemed like there were reports everywhere of health care reform being DOA, dead in the water, or being "put on the back burner" for awhile. I was so angry I was ready to spit, and hammered off a post that included five feasible ways to get the bill through. Reasonable, very smart people (like Barney Frank, once again) seemed to be ready to throw in the towel. And no one I know could figure out why on earth we don't play ball like the GOP. Did they call for their colleagues to wait until Al Franken was certified before tackling important measures, because it was the right thing to do??? I was in absolute disbelief. The Hubby was threatening to become an Independent over it all, and Little Man piped up with, "You know, Momma, I'm not saying we should act like Republicans. I know it's not right to play dirty tricks, but they held up our Senator getting into office, why don't we let them some of their own medicine? It's the only way they'll learn." (Can I just say how much I love having smart kids???) I'm still not sure where we're going with health care at this point, but in the State of The Union, it looked like it was still breathing, if in critical condition. But this is one time when a "wait and see" approach won't help the patient.

 3. SOTU: The Prez Spanks The Court & Puts The GOP in A Time-Out  The Hubby set the State of The Union up to tape (on MSNBC, of course...) so that I could get to Little Man's school  - he's got his big trip to science camp on Catalina Island coming up, and they had to meet with us to make sure no one brought spear guns. And oh, yes, to let us all know that "the most qualified parents were chosen to chaperone." I guess my teaching credentials, CPR and first aid training and 20 some years of working with kids isn't enough experience...but, hey, I'm letting it go...

Anyhow, I got home and we sat down to watch the speech. We were both encouraged by what we heard throughout - our platform planks were still alive. I was absolutely delighted when The President literally shook his finger at the GOP for their obstructionism, and stood up and cheered when he took on SCOTUS' recent decision. And then, I could not believe my eyes. "Wait a minute! Go back! Go back!" I shouted at The Hubby. "Did you see that???" He did, and he ran it back:


Yeah, he said it all right. From Joe Wilson's "You Lie," to the activist GOP Justice heckling The President with "Simply Not True," it has been a year that highlights the lack of decorum and simply, disrespect and disdain for the Office of The President which the Rethugs have come to represent. But the speech was a great one, with a confident President at ease with his message, and appearing to be back on track to lead his party. But hey, you ain't seen nothin' yet, Kids....

4. Presidential Q & A: The President vs. The GOP or, Davey and Goliath
After a period of doubting that our President had the arm twisting skills of LBJ, and wondering whether he had wasted away his substantial political capital, he pulls this proverbial hat trick and takes on the House Rethugs entirely on his own. See for yourself:

I have always thought that President Obama is a man of significant intelligence, and it's evident he is an amazing speaker, but tonight we can most definitely state that we have, without a doubt, a brilliant man in the Office of The President. If you're going to ask our guy a question, you'd damn well better be ready to back up your assertions with facts! It was a joy to watch him tackle each GOP soundbite and bumper sticker, each campaign speech and commercial, by using the wealth of information he has about, well, everything they asked and more! This was a Clintonesque moment, one in which the ability to have specific figures on the tip of his tongue, and the ability to jab and perry with each and every GOP who dared to show bluster. Simply put, The Prez nailed it. He kicked some serious political ass. He took on all comers and remains the champion. By the time the session was over, and a long one it was, a full 86 minutes, there was no doubt who was in charge. And it was obvious that the GOP were kicking themselves for allowing the cameras in the room! (Somebody's gonna get hung out to dry for that one...yet, politically, what choice did they have? The headline would have been "GOP Afraid of Transparency?") Yes, I think we can say, in no uncertain terms, The President has grown a pair, and managed to demonstrate the GOP lack of a set of their own. President Obama made certain that we all knew who was the smartest man in the room, and he's on our side.

Ah, I feel much better now. Finally caught up and ready to see what will happen next on the political scene. It's been a whirlwind of a week, so now I am waiting to hear your take on it all, my fellow Politicos. POTUS, SCOTUS, SOTU and The President's Q & A, all up for grabs and fair game. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

By the way, our first guest post will be up soon, by my blogsistah ConchExPat, from She Started It! Hope you'll come by and check out her distinct voice and politcal smarts!