Divided We Stand

Grand Old Party RepublicansIf you’re a regular follower of df.com you know that for some time I’ve been talking about the growing divide within the Republican Grand Old Party political organization. Specifically I’ve been talking for some time about the Conservative minority leadership within the GOP that seeks to push out all moderate Republican leadership. The Conservatives have never more so been on the move to take over the GOP and squash any differentiation in opinion that may exist among Republicans as a whole. The sad part is the Conservatives have their own party with which they could adamantly rule, but because the Conservative name is so marred in its own inability to be successful they have instead opted to focus on keeping their enrollment within the Republican party and have the Conservative party “endorse” specific Republican candidates they approve of.

In the past those endorsements came pretty carte’ blanche. In effect, whomever was the Republican candidate on the ballot was also the Conservative. The Conservative party itself has a small membership by registered affiliation (again—they’ve always pushed to have Conservatives register within the GOP so they can push up candidates on the ballot and then endorse them).

Worldwide the Conservative Party name is used by many organizations, but within the US there are really three organizations (two of which are National in nature and one that is state):

The NY Conservative Party is of particular interest and is one of the strongest ultra Conservative organizations within the US. The party was founded in 1962 by frustrated Republicans who at the time felt the mainstream GOP had become too liberal. The party does support National candidates, but can only put their candidates on the NY State (or lower) ballots. Again, this makes it mandatory for National Conservative candidates to come out of the much larger US wide ballot pool by supporting the GOP candidates. As a result there has been both a sense of frustration and need for cooperation between the more conservative GOP party members and the NY Conservative party members who both hope to get extreme right wing candidates on the GOP ballot. New York states itself has a particularly weird rule that allows a candidate to run under multiple party lines. The result is a candidate can appear on the Conservative and Republican party voting rows with votes in either row counting towards their victory as one consolidated vote in the final tally of votes. This rule is known as accumulative voting and is reason the NY Conservative party could even conceptually exist as their membership is so small compared to the larger National Conservative parties aforementioned.

The benefit for the GOP candidate is if you can get yourself in with the NY Conservative party you’re guaranteed a voting block of decent percentage of core voters who will blindly vote for you in one block. Even more so, the ability to dump your name into the Conservative row gives you almost a blind seal of approval amongst the larger conservative voter base as a whole allowing you to pick up Republicans, Independence, Libertarian, Right to Life, and other right wing voters who vote on affiliation alone. The two add up to leveling the playing field in heavily Democratic New York State whose metro-NY City voting block almost always seems to lean left and help give the GOP candidate a chance to get pull from the more right wing leaning greater upstate New York State area.

Rush LimbaughMeanwhile the Conservative Party USA is more a Libertarian like movement. Their main focus is on stripping down the Federal government and to empower the States individually. The primary reasoning being that the Constitution of the USA does not in clear writing give the full breath of power and responsibility to the Federal Government that it undertakes today. The US Conservatives do not normally put their own home grown candidates on the ballot and instead usually leverage GOP candidates as their own. The main difference is while Libertarians endorse a smaller central government they do so with more liberal values in mind such as open borders, laissez-faire Capitalism, and lose drug control. In contrast, the US Conservatives still want to make sure that gay marriage, loss of gun rights, and liberalism as a whole are not the end result of electing a given candidate. In such, they become counter opposites of the other in some ways as Republican are to Democrats. The US Conservative Party’s ultimate goal is to break from the GOP eventually and to establish a “back to basics” party who idolizes itself as the true successors to the US’s founding fathers. Membership wise though they are even smaller than the NYS Conservatives right now.

The arguably largest group of right wing voters are the American Conservative Party. Again, most of their candidates are from the GOP party line and much like the NYS Conservatives have in recent months come to be the seal of Conservative approval. Most of their “members” are not actual party members. Members actually usually belong to another major party legally as far as voter registration goes. Member affiliation is therefore not legal required and more fluid in membership than a formal party. They draw a large crowd of Conservatives, Republicans, and Libertarians who endorse the party’s back to basics style of government. They are seen as less radical than the American Conservative party and that helps maintain their legitimacy. They also tend not to talk about splitting the GOP party (though clearly by pushing candidates on other party lines than the GOP itself that’s what could end up happening). The American Conservative Party is the youngest organization (about a year or so old) and are very loosely affiliated across the Internet and local chapters countrywide. They are not a true “party” yet as they don’t appear on any particular state ballots as a party line, but are working towards an official organization as a long term goal. Think of the group as more of a Facebook networking club for Conservatives and less of a formal party.

The Republican Party itself is who stands the most chance to suffer from these aforementioned Conservative movements. The GOP is a National Organization with state chapters in all 50 US States. As one of the two big political parties in the USA, the GOP has been around since 1854 and garners right wing leaning voters of all kinds. Arguably this diversity has been one of its strengths allowing it to survive a century of change mostly intact, but those days may be coming to an end.

With the election of George W. Bush as President of the USA in 2001, the GOP was at the height of its success. Republicans had turned back eight plus years of Democrat control and taken both the Executive branch, as well as, gaining majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives (Congressional branch). The sitting Supreme Court branch was every day leaning more right as well as its members grew older. From there though it’s been all downhill. When Bush was reelected in 2004 to President with an overwhelming majority of votes in his favor (in contrast to the near 50/50 voting he got against Al Gore in 2001) he was quick to label the win as a “mandate by America” for Conservative politics. Within weeks of his new term Bush sought with renewed urgency to put into law a slew of Conservative items that he pushed through (with or without Congressional approval). Bush moved from his previous term’s centrist politics and focused on pushing out all of but the most Conservative members of his staff. This included losing Colin Powell as his Secretary of State. Powell had long been seen as both a key African American in the GOP and a moderate in nature who garnered support from both sides. The problem was Powell’s views were not liked on the GOP fringe and particularly this peeved off the hidden Conservatives within Bush’s staff including Dick Cheney (the Vice President of the US at the time) who long had been seen as the de facto leader of the Conservative movement in the US since 2001. Cheney encouraged Bush to move forward with the “mandate” and any number of political SNAFUs we are currently stuck with took root including two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) being escalated, a new Star Wars military program called the “Missile Shield” culling a new cold war with Russia, and continued outsourcing of jobs to South America courtesy of the NAFTA trade agreements.

By the end of Bush’s term in 2008 the GOP was under scrutiny by the American people as a whole. With the election of Barrack Obama in 2009 as President, the “mandate” was seemingly over turned. Congress shifted left again as well with a 55% Democrat majority. The Democrats saw renewed vigor thanks to a new majority of American voters signing on with the Democrats. The Democrats were in 2004 able to name 72 million registered party members to the Republicans’ 55 million party members. Even more concerning were the some 44 million Independent voters with no particular affiliation with either the Democrat or Republican parties. Obama managed to draw the vast majority (some 90%) of Independents to support the Democrats and in wake of 100 million to 55 million potential votes the GOP was toast.

FNew_York_District_23_109th_US_Congressast forward to the late 2009 elections that just took place in November and the next round of GOP “mandates”. Conservatives were growing tired with the majority of the GOP and with members such as myself in the moderate position voting for Democrats as well they called for blood in the form of “Tea Party” movement. The Tea Party movement was another loosely knit group of Conservative voters similar in nature to the US Conservative party (if not the same) calling themselves the Tea Party Patriots. Much like the US Conservative party they preached limited government, fiscal responsibility, and back to basic right wing values mandates. The Tea Party kicked off a bus tour where they would call on local Conservative and GOP members to speak against any number of things Democrat. All was well in good at this point and it looked like Ronald Reagan’s core GOP values of the 1980s were back on the rise. The problem is while the movement gained traction throughout the greater Midwest and Southern States; it had little to no effect on the majority of voters within the West and East coast. The voters on the coast were still choosing more moderate politics in wake of the extreme right wing underlying tenants preached by the Tea Party and Conservatives as a whole.

This enraged the Tea Party who somewhere late in the year decided the minority was the majority and put moderates under the scrutiny of the GOP party leadership. The witch hunt began with Rush Limbaugh (just out of drug rehab and sporting his new Slimfast waist line) calling for all moderate GOP members to quit the party immediately so Conservatives can take back politics. How splitting off 80% of the party and expelling some 40 million out of 55 million members would help the GOP is beyond any one to understand including myself. Even more confusing is as mentioned above there are already two national Conservative parties that Rush could help build into a legitimate third party (who would have some 20 million votes and be one of the largest minor political National Parties in the US). They could even pull some members from the Libertarians and Green Party believe it or not. No, that is not Rush’s way to do things. Instead he calls for Moderate Republicans to “leave the tent”. Within hours Glen Beck and Sarah Palin jump on the bandwagon calling for a new Conservative movement. They quickly call out the national and NY Conservatives, as well as, Tea Party members for support. Next thing you know Palin is on the Tea Party Express bus tour making stops to tout these views in person.

The circus escalates when Limbaugh and Palin decide the Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives in New York State’s 23 Congressional District is not Conservative enough to be on the GOP ballot. They weren’t alone. Flashback a bit first though to September 29, 2009 when NY Governor David Patterson calls for a special election in the district. The previous Representative for the District (John M. McHugh) had accepted President Obama’s offer to become the new US Secretary of the Army on 9/21/09. McHugh was a Republican and the concession was seen as centrist move by Obama. McHugh was moderate in nature and had a great record of civil service behind him. NY’s 23 District had had a Republican representative in its House seat since the 1850s. The GOP was founded in 1854 to recap—it’s therefore fair to say since there’s been a GOP there has been a GOP representative sitting in the House seat for that District. The 23rd District is in upstate New York and includes Watertown. The area is moderate to conservative in nature (some 70% Republican) and has a mostly agriculture based economy. It’s an area that epitomizes atypical upstate NY. Simple agriculture small town life. Good hard working people.

In NY special elections for US House a primary is not required by law. Instead candidates are nominated within a given party by standing county leaders of that party by popular vote. In this case the State GOP committee leaders would selected by popular vote one GOP candidate to go up against the other parties’ candidates. The Democrats and other various parties would do the same with their final picks appearing on the November 4, 2009 Election day ballot. The GOP ended up nominating State Assembly Woman Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava. Scozzafava was a moderate GOP member and again had a very similar voting record to her predecessor McHugh. Republicans eyed here as a shoe in win. Scozzafava would also win the Independence Party candidacy as well.

NY Democrats nominated local attorney Bill Owens. Owens would also get the Working Family candidacy nod as is par normal for a liberal Democrat candidate in NY.

800px-BlackriverwatertownnyWhat was not normal was what the Conservative Party decided. The NY Conservative Party had already decided that Scozzafava was not Conservative enough to get their nod despite being on the GOP Republican ticket. No, they were upset that Scozzafava supported abortion rights and gay marriage. As such, they opted to nominate accountant Doug Hoffman. Hoffman had been one of the alternative candidates under consideration by the GOP for their candidacy who had been overlooked for Scozzafava. Hoffman was far more right wing than Scozzafava and an easy Conservative pick.

This is where things got strange. Mid-October Palin and Limbaugh start talking about this election as if it was Armageddon. They cited Scozzafava not being a true Republican for not keeping ALL values considered default for a GOP nod. In Limbaugh and Palin’s mind (and words) no Republican candidate should ever support abortion or gay marriage even remotely. Palin and Limbaugh said you either towed the entire party line or you shouldn’t even be considered for the nomination. They accused the NY GOP of completely messing up with Scozzafava’s pick and short of claiming heresy said NY chapter was not doing the GOP justice. Within days the Tea Party Express was in Watertown, NY touting the need to support the Conservative candidate Hoffman.

When the mainstream Republicans continued to support Scozzafava (including GOP National Party Chairman Michael Steele, US House Minority GOP Leader John Boehner,  and GOP leader alumni Newt Gingrich) this only enraged the far right Republicans/Conservatives. That’s when aforementioned the “leave the tent” speech came out by Limbaugh. By October 31, 2009 Scozzafava had quit the race after being faced with Conservative mud slinging and decided it was not worth running under such scrutiny. Her fear was even if she did win (and she probably would have) the Conservatives would hound her at every turn. Scozzafava felt the GOP extreme right had made her a pariah for Conservatives and with that huge amount of pressure she gracefully bowed out of the election race citing “personal reasons”. It seemed like the Conservatives had won after driving the moderate GOP candidate out of town. Their Conservative minority was indeed able to be majority if it just made enough trouble for the GOP as a whole. Who needs majority votes anyhow? That’s un-American! Fear tactics is where it’s at!

Just before election night something strange happened though in the form of a Republican backlash against the Conservatives. It started when Scozzafava quickly announced her support for Democrat Owens and noted her supporters should not vote for the Conservative Hoffman. It was literally a last minute announcement on Election Day, but the effects were resounding. 62,662 voters picked Owens. Votes for Owen crushed Hoffman who only received 57,572 votes. Scozzafava (though officially not a candidate, but still on the ballot) garnered 7,041 protest votes to boot.  Yes, voters for the first time since the Republican party existed voted in a Democrat in NYS’s 23 District. Worse yet, in the wake of the all this talk about Conservatives only being allowed in the GOP, the Democrats decided the win wasn’t enough. They fired the final political shot at the Conservatives.

Democratic leaders immediately stepped up the fight another notch with VP Joe Biden saying, “They may not have any room for moderate views in the Republican Party upstate anymore, but let me assure you: We have room.” Yes, Democrats were putting out an open call to accept Mr. Limbaugh’s “get out of the tent offer” and to take in en masse any moderate Republican who wanted a warm welcome, as well as, the ability to voice their opinion to the party even if it wasn’t 100% in line with the Democratic party banner. Unexpectedly, his words would make the already bigger Democrat tent potentially even bigger and spread the very thing Limbaugh and Palin sought to squash: Liberalism.

Sarah PalinThere is the irony. Through all this talk Conservatives have not fixed issues within the Republican party by pushing anyone out. It’s seemingly just the opposite. With two big Gubernatorial wins this year in Virginia and New Jersey the GOP does have a chance to take back America. What will save the GOP is not two more states with Republican Governors though. No, what will save the Republican party is voters not deterred by fringe politics and extremist views. Here’s the insight into how Republicans won Virginia and NJ: The races where won by garnering the Independent vote for GOP; not the Democratic vote for the GOP. Those same Independents (some 44 million) who a year ago elected Obama are the same voters who gave the GOP the win in both NJ and Virginia. Exit polls by multiple sources confirmed that trend in both last year and this year’s races.

It’s the only way for 55 million GOP voters to overcome 72 million Democratic votes. Yes, the GOP can win an election—but only when those candidates are able to pull in the moderate majority of America. After all, we are a political system based on majority rule and even name calling cannot change that. The key to victory for a candidate in America these last two years in a row has been the ability for that candidate to garner the centrist moderate vote whether it be Democrat, Independent, or Republican (or whatever) in flavor. If you can pull in the majority of America (who is moderate) than you can win the election. Extreme right or left wing candidates thus don’t have a chance on a National or even statewide stage. Extremists (thankfully) don’t appeal to the majority of mainstream America.

With that, Mr. Limbaugh and Mrs. Palin I will not leave the tent. I am staying. You can go if you wish. There’s many options for you, but being a Moderate Republican is very different than being a Democrat. I don’t support abortion, but I do support its legal right to exist since it’s protected by our Constitution. I do believe in smaller government, but don’t support pure uncontained Capitalism. Small government shouldn’t be weak government. I want social health care in the form of a public option and it doesn’t bother me that the rich will foot the bill for the poor who were put there by the outsourcing of American’s blue collar jobs by very CEOs who will get hit hardest by the taxes. That is only fair in my opinion. I will not leave the tent, but it appears as the tent may leave you. And yes, Reagan was a Democrat in the beginning of his career (look it up). Trickle down economics failed miserably (look it up). And his administration was mired in scandal (Iran-Contra anyone?). So please keep your Reagan GOP views—I’ll gladly keep my moderate Lincoln GOP views as well. It makes the tent all that more exciting.

And as far as history goes with Tea Party Conservatives misreading it– What do you expect from a group of politicians who cannot tell the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution? You can keep your Tea Parties—I like coffee better any how. I know the Constitution preamble verses the Declaration of Independence preamble. I don’t need to keep it in my pocket and wave flag to talk up my patriotism.

I ask again—for the fourth time. Are you listening Conservative leaders? Do you get this yet? Probably not, but at least I feel better after venting.


New MJ Song

In case you’ve been hiding in a cave in Afghanistan from US military forces for the last few months, I’d like to catch you up on the fact that Michael Jackson died a few weeks back. Shortly thereafter his mother was named his Executor of State and since then it’s been a pretty wild ride. There was multiple Jackson funerals, a memorial service, a few burial services, and now the latest hoopla is surrounding the 10/26/09 planned release of “This Is It”, which is Michael Jackson’s biography film. Considering how fast they put the thing together it may say something about what various people in his life saw as the inevitable end, but that may just be me making a wild guess.

With that in mind, a new Jackson song was post-haste put through production and released earlier this morning. You can find the clip on Michael Jackson’s official site (or maybe it’s more his Mom’s site with his name on it… I’m not sure how to label it at this point).  For those of you on the lazy side I’ve embedded the song below for your listen.

It’s reminiscent of Jackson’s earlier works and it’s nice to see he may have planned returning to his soul/R&B styling roots instead of the over produced pop crap that riddled his last decade of work. It’s not the most catchy tune, but as a final piece it brings things full circle back to where he started with the likes of “Off The Wall”. So I’ll give it a thumbs up and a six out of ten rating. Let me know what you think.


Farce The Nation

Gates and Clinton on CNNI accidentally stumbled onto CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour’s new show “Power & Persuasion” yesterday while flipping through the TV channels after work. I’ve always been a fan of Amanpour for several reasons; the foremost being her clear cut straight forward interview style and lack of melodramatics during reporting. It’s rare in a modern journalist you find someone just giving you the news and avoiding trying to narrate the events. I find it very annoying when journalists who are doing a news story decide to become an editor or even worse– a fiction writer complete with over pronounced descriptive paragraphs that would fit right into a Stephen King novel. I’ve always been adverse to new journalism styling that evokes such writing style. I’d rather hear the story through the information and not the other way around.

So I stopped on the show to see how Amanpour in the spotlight would fair. This particular edition had on as guests Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. I will tell you up front despite my sometime left wing leanings I absolutely despise Hillary Clinton. When she won the Senate seat in NY I gave serious thought to leaving the state. I rue her that much. I find her artificial, arrogant, and clearly out for herself when she should be looking out for the rest of us. In short, I hate Hillary Clinton and literally list her number one on my list of US politicians who I could do without. On the other hand, I rather like Robert Gates. I think Gates did an excellent job under George W. Bush’s administration and was one of the bright second term highlights of that team. His succeeding of Donal Rumsfeld in 2006 was nothing short of a welcome change in the Secretary of Defense position. Gates was everything Rumsfeld was not. Gates is a seasoned CIA and Intelligence Director with clear ability to address complex statements and communicate the importance of issues to the general public. Rumsfeld always looked annoyed when questioned by the media and was quick to throw fits in public. Gates was calm, cool, and collected. He seemingly welcomed the questions as if he was dying to speak on any given subject as it was clearly near and dear to his heart. When Barrack Obama appointed him as Secretary of Defense again it was a surprise. Gates had always been considered a core Republican (Gates goes as far back as a Reagan era insider and you cannot get more GOP than that) leader and was by no means some liberal pansy looking to pull out of either Iraq or Afghanistan. Nevertheless it was one more thing that made me appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Obama and understand that even “the other side” viewed Gates’ value as a head of our country’s defensive military strategies in a time of war.

So I decided to watch a few minutes of the program. I was not surprised by Hillary’s terse manner (she’s Rumsfeld in a skirt), but I was surprised how cohesive Gates and her were together. They did work well even though clearly Gates was still a Conservative and Hillary was still a carpet bagging psycho. Nevertheless it does seem strange that two such diverse people are able to work so well, but there it was– working well.

I walked away with one idea brought forward by Gates during the interview. The question was something along the lines of “What would the US pulling out of Afghanistan in a state of retreat send as a message to the Taliban and Al Qaeda ?” Gates didn’t flinch or hesitate and answered adamant, “Pulling out of Afghanistan in that state would send a message to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as well as, other extremists worldwide that they had beaten a second super power. In the 1980s when the Mujaheddin beat the Soviets it was seen as a smaller force being able to beat up a world power. This would give them their second victory.” Gates then went on, “Al Qaeda doesn’t run like other terrorist organizations. It’s not a unified structure. Their ability to motivate other extremists is central to the reputation they garner from their acts. It’s not about actually winning; it’s about what their victories mean as a statement.” Gates then answered questions on information as a weapon and the use of next generation services such as mobile to web services as Twitter. Hillary Clinton chimed in, “When Twitter was going to shut down for eight hours to do software upgrades and I found out that the Iranians in the  streets protesting were using that as their main vehicle of information decimation I immediately called them and told them you cannot shut down today. They stayed up.”

It was interesting to hear how modern national defense had evolved. How next generation technologies such as cell phones, web blogs, and Twitter were allowing coordination of dissidents within another country to mobilize. How that  could be both a benefit to our allies and huge problem when dealing with our enemies. So it appears clearly that from a national stand point the US government is placing more value on information warfare and adapting its communication capabilities to keep up with our opponents. Said Gates on the subject “It’s the young men and women of our service who bring these ideas to the table. Who keep us informed about these things. When Al Qaeda was driving around with a FM radio transmitter on a motorcycle broadcasting names of people they’d behead if the village supported our efforts and we found out, we located and eliminated that threat. The young people brought that to our attention. As a result, we were able to turn support for the US in that village by showing those villagers we are watching out for them.”

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.


The Nobel To Pieces Prize

Nobel Peace PrizeYesterday we all awoke to the news that US President Barrack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Many media outlets noted this was a shock because President Obama was never considered a reasonable front runner for the prize. Further there was the fact that President Obama was still relatively new to world level politics having only been the President of the United States of America for some nine months. Still, the vast majority of people around the world understood why he was chosen and what the choice meant: There is still hope in dreaming of a better tomorrow.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Nobel Foundation. The Peace Prize is just one of several awards the foundation gives out annually to recognize world changing positive efforts in the realms of science, medicine, chemistry, economics, peace, and literature. There is no prize for math (and that really makes the number crunchers angry– no joke). The Foundation describes itself on its web site as follows:

The Nobel Foundation is a private institution established in 1900 based on the will of Alfred Nobel. The Foundation manages the assets made available through the will for the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace. It represents the Nobel Institutions externally and administers informational activities and arrangements surrounding the presentation of the Nobel Prize. The Foundation also administers the Nobel Symposium Program.

Alfred Nobel was a chemist of Swedish citizenship. He was the owner and CEO of Bofors during the 1800s, which is  a rather large corporation who manufactures arms. Today Bofors is owned partially by Saab (its their missile division not the born from Jets car division we know Saab as in the US) and the US corporation BAE (heavy weapons). Nobel made a great deal of money and after his death his will established the Nobel Foundation with a large sum of money (some $250 million USD in today’s currency). Nobel was most noted as the inventor of dynamite and despite being scorned in his day as the man who “became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before” in a prematurely published obituary; he went on to fund the world’s most noted prize for those who seek to make peace in the world.

Nobel Prize winners have varied and President Obama is not the first sitting US President to get the award (that would be Teddy Roosevelt) and arguably not the most lauded (that would be Jimmy Carter who got it in 2002 well after his late 70s run as US President). There has been one given out every year since 1900 so the list of Peace Prize winners is well over a hundred making him part of a small, but yet not too small list of winners.

So why Obama? Why now when he’s only nine months into his presidency? The Nobel Committee noted “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.” Further they lauded his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” It is true, President Obama has done a large amount of diplomacy in his first 200 some odd days in office. He steered Iraq away from a total meltdown and complete civil war. President Obama worked with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to coordinate efforts with US Central command boosting troop coverage where it was needed to suppress insurgent uprising in not only Iraq, but Afghanistan as well. He pushed for nuclear disarmament between the US and Russia including canceling the missile shield that Russia threatened to use as grounds to escalate its own armament. He restored talks with Iran and broke the ice opening future talks to improve relations. He reached out across party lines and garnered support on social bills including working towards a public health care bill that right now is under consideration by Congress. He signed into law numerous bills protecting human rights and improving citizens’ welfare including the Minimum Wage hike, expanding social services, and providing economic relief to America’s middle class in the form of a tax withholding amount decrease. He spearheaded the reorganization of GM and Chrysler saving the US’s industrial industry from total self destruction. He changed the view of America for many citizens of other countries where previous administrations had eroded our reputation to the point where abroad we were treated with skepticism. Ultimately this not only restored faith in Americans, but faith between the world as a whole. In short, there has not been such a well received world leader from the US in some four decades plus. Arguably that span goes back as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Indeed it has been a  long time.

I am a Republican by political affiliation and yet I can still both admit these successes, as well as, applaud these efforts. That is why yesterday afternoon when the GOP newsletter rolled into my email inbox my stomach rolled as well. The newsletter mocked the Peace Prize announcement and insisted President Obama as its choice was proof the award itself was nothing short of a farce. They weren’t alone though. The attacks were everywhere. This NY Times Editorial also mirrors the GOP’s official reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize announcement and sums up the major criticisms of having President Obama as the recipient.  Complete with the tag line that “Now the Prize – which once meant something important – is officially a late-night joke. And like it or not, Obama is part of the punchline.”  The aforementioned GOP newsletter was so shocking to recipients  it caused immediate push back from party members. There was so much negative feedback from party members that Michael Huckabee himself chimed in on his blog to try to quell criticism of the newsletter and restore order to the party. It’s hard though not to take any of this as simply sour grapes on the GOP’s part. Let’s face it, President Obama has a some 60% plus approval rating in the US. George W. Bush spent the last two years in the mid-thirties percentile (on a good day) and I personally think that is what is really eating the GOP. They cannot admit success for a Democrat President especially after a four year debacle of failure after  failure by Republicans to move America forward. And so this is where the Grand Old Party of Republicans is left. Wandering around trying to find out how to tarnish movement forward by somebody in another party.

Instead of reinventing the wheel I will instead turn to the global view of British journalist Mark Mardell of the BBC:

I think it is pretty obvious. As so often, the mystery clears up if you bother to read the text, in this case the citation. The committee praises him for intentions that were key to his whole campaign. It singles out working through the United Nations, for putting the emphasis on negotiations, international diplomacy and co-operation, for creating a new climate in international politics. In other words, because he’s not President George W Bush and has steered American foreign policy, or at least its strategy if not its aims, in an opposite direction.

Not surprisingly, Republicans are furious. John Bolton, Bush’s ambassador to the UN, has just told the BBC that it is no coincidence that Jimmy Carter and Al Gore also got the prize, but, not say, Ronald Reagan. He says the committee is “preaching at America, saying ‘do you Americans get the point yet?'”.

And so I have to ask you my fellow Americans– do we get it? Do we understand what the broader world wants in a peaceful leader or do we just want to continue to lie to ourselves so it’s easier to sleep at night? The right decisions are never easy and always mocked, but in the end they are also always recognized because you can resist change for only so long. Then you realize everyone else has moved on and you’ve been left behind. It’s at that time you realize you aren’t that important any more and there are others in this world. Welcome to the Earth. Population me and you.

Peace is about change. It is about following a much harder path than that of war and violence. It’s easy to act out and destroy, but it so much harder to create. Even harder than it was for Miley to quit Twitter. The reward though is finding a way to coexist and share the world like God intended. Together as one people. It has nothing to do with politics, but has everything to do with believing we’re better than who we are as a people today. That there is a better tomorrow for you and me. One where we can all live. Because together as a team we can accomplish anything. We truly are more than the sum of our parts. I repeat– together we can accomplish anything.

So I applaud the Nobel Committee for their bold statement. I applaud President Obama for his success. And I applaud the GOP hard liners for reminding me why I voted for Obama in the last election instead of “their” candidate. Are you getting this GOP committee? I guess not. Maybe if you give up your Twitter account you too can get your life on track or at least stop posting pictures of yourselves in bikinis. It’s win-win for us all.


Classic DF – 8/2/02

August 02, 2002: [•] Two sheriff’s deputies located two kidnapped teenage girls and shot their kidnapper minutes before he planned to execute the girls. [•] Ziad Jarrah, one of the 9/11 terrorists, was being watched by the CIA at one point. [•] Israel has begun retaliation for the bombing of a school cafeteria two days ago. [•] Mystery blobs are appearing on sidewalks in Camden, NJ. [•] Iraq is considering allowing arms inspections to resume. [•] 20 people are dead after fighting in Kashmir. [•] A kidnapped German has been released in Sudan. [•] A man arrested in Zambia has admitted to practicing black magic and even more disturbing was authorities found him in possession of a human heart wrapped in a cloth. [•] Fighting has broken out in Afghanistan between Tajiks and Pashtuns. [•] An ex-cop was killed in a shoot-out with his former coworkers after they tried to arrest him on suspicion of killing his wife. [•] A girl has turned up missing in San Francisco. [•] For once and all I’d to put the rumors to rest that my wife and I are getting divorced. Yes, we’ve had our arguments; but nothing out of the ordinary for any married couple to disagree over. Melissa and I have honestly never been happier and we are more committed to each other than ever before. Despite arguments, personal differences, and opinions that differ we are still together. This will be for the foreseeable future. While I appreciate the concern of friends I’m a little confused about motives nevertheless. My marriage is not based on staying together for my daughter alone. It is based on Melissa and my mutual need to love each other. We respect each other and we have made great strides to over come every personal issue we have encountered. Certainly, we are like no married couple and unlike 50% of couples today we have managed to have our marriage last 3 years. If we didn’t want to be with each other believe me we would have already made that choice. Divorce is a choice made by couples who cannot fix their indifferences. It is not caused by simply fighting and in some instances it is caused by lack there in of. Without communication and interaction a marriage is doomed to fail. What some see as a troubled marriage is actually a healthy one in many aspects. People may not be able to handle our frank handling of matters and our openness to discuss issues in heated conversation. However, this does not designate my marriage as a failure. Our relationship has always been built on commitment and with such it will continue to be. Last night when I embraced my wife and for the billionth time told her that I loved her it meant just as much, if not more than, as the first day I said those words. I love you wife (and daughter too) and I know you feel the same about me. 🙂