Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Early Christmas for the President

     Apparently Santa Claus has decided not to wait until Christmas Eve to start making his annual deliveries. President Obama, in particular, has received an early visit from the Christmas Eve flier, raising the conjecture among Washington's “in” crowd that the sprightly old elf is a Democrat. Be very careful, Mitch McConnell, you may wind up on the naughty list.
     As evidence of St. Nick's presidential visit, observe what has happened since the “shellacking” the Democrats received in the mid-term election. Along with almost everyone else, I expected that the remaining two months of the lame-duck Congress would exhibit a gridlock that would make Los Angeles freeways look like kids playing with toy cars in a sandbox. But lo and behold, the Congress came up with a bipartisan output that must have had Mitch wondering whether the “party of no” members had all gone home for the holidays. Observe:
     Congress passed a two year extension of the Bush tax cuts. The President had to give up his request not to extend the cuts for taxpayers making more than $250,000. As part of the same package, the Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits through 2011.

     The START Nuclear Arms Treaty with Russia was ratified by the Senate. The Treaty was originally signed on April 8, and has been awaiting Senate approval ever since. The President has lobbied long and hard for its passage, claiming it is the vital centerpiece of his relationship with Russia. Opposition centered upon what was considered to be an inadequate verification system, and the treaty's possible interference with a potential missile defense system.
     Proponents claimed that if it had been negotiated by a Republican president, it would have been ratified months ago.
     The “don't ask, don't tell” policy toward gays and lesbians in the military was repealed. The repeal was approved by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, a Pentagon review found that allowing gays to serve openly posed only a “low risk” of disruption.
     Opponents of the bill fought to the bitter end: As late as Tuesday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was trying to move, without debate, an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have required the military service chiefs to individually certify the process.
     The Health and Compensation Act for 9/11 workers and survivors has passed. Opponents focused on the cost of the bill, which was originally set at $6.2B. The amount was reduced to $4.3B to assure passage.
     After the November 2 election, chances of any of these bills passing were estimated to be practically zero. That they passed is due to compromises from both sides of the aisle; apparently Republicans responded to their constituents' demands for action, while the President realized that he needed to move toward the center of the political spectrum.
     It appears that the official congressional leaders of the Republican Party, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, are as dedicated as ever to making President Obama a one term president. Fortunately, individual members of the party voted for what they believed was best for the country instead of for the party line.
     In the TV show, A Charlie Brown Christmas, the song Christmas Time Is Here contains a line ,”Oh, if we could only see such spirit through the year.” Although not intended by the songwriter, the line has Congressional implications.
Merry Christmas
     It is easy to see how ever expanding constructs can interfere with each other. Thorns can choke out plants, changing economic conditions can ruin a business, and cats can wipe out a colony of field-mice. Within the human brain, bigotry can destroy understanding, and fear can prevent creative thinking.
     An In-Depth Look At the Spirit's Activity – The Spirit Runs Through It.

     The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

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