Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 241

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On Politics
Earlier this week the Senate voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline, a bill that President Obama was against (one reason being the release of carbon dioxide when burned). The pipeline would have been the 76th oil pipeline between Canada and the US. Interestingly, the oil will still move – but by rail – a method that releases much more carbon dioxide than the pipeline.

Writing this before President Obama’s announcement about immigration, I’m remain against the executive action for the following reasons: 1) Poor timing coming off the recent election, 2) President Obama has had 6 years to do this, 3) An effective date of early January 2015 does put onus on the new Congress 4) Many, if not the majority, of nonpartisan Americans are tired of continual gamesmanship, 5) the majority of Americans want productivity, and 6) no matter how the courts decide if faced with the issue, the majority of American won’t be happy that it went that far.

A different way of doing business was an important aspect of the “Hope and change” mantra, but the executive action actually points to business-as-usual while reinforcing the notion that Congressional Republicans haven’t cornered the market on political obstinance. On the other hand, the House not acting on a Senate-passed bill and the overall Republican idea of shallow taglines is quite pathetic. In the words of Clara Peller ….

The White House mishandled the news around Jonathan Gruber. All they had to do was a) admit they used him, b) state that he’s a smart guy, c) and point to the fact he sometimes says stupid things, of which they don’t approve. Meanwhile, dancing around those facts attempts to play to what we aren’t … and that’s stupid.

By keeping their Congressional leaders in power, the Democrats have an early start in pushing away the 2016 independent’s vote.

Except among the partisans, there isn’t much confidence in either party. Yes, President Obama has a low approval rating, but that of Congress is much lower. Pew Research Center provides this interesting article about the challenges of bipartisanship.

As Washington stymies progress and avoid solutions, I appreciated these two articles (National Journal) about the smallness of Washington: Part 1 & Part 2

On a lighter note, this one made me laugh … If a tree falls in the forest and Fox News is not there to cover it, is it still President Obama’s fault?

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On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Mellowing Jihadist not as enraged by western culture as he used to be
Paleontologists determine dinosaurs killed by someone they trusted
10th grade math prodigy studying math at 10th grade level
New law to forgive student debt for college graduates once all their dreams are shattered
Chinese citizens gather in Beijing square to watch US National Debt Clock strike $18 trillion
Astronomers discover planet identical to Earth with orbital space mirror (I like this accompanying image)

Interesting Reads
The causes behind the mid-life crisis
Geography and terrorism
Malta: An ancient fortress and the modern world
Life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Converting Facebook Likes of NFL teams into a map
(Gallery) Wildlife photography winners
(Interactive) What the world eats (This is outstanding)

On Potpourri
The latest on Lauren Hill is that her weakness is her practice time with basketball team … and I wonder if she sees 2015. Earlier this week, Xavier University (the game’s host) and Mt. St. Joseph University (her school) presented a check (over $58,000) from the game’s receipts and merchandise in honor of her to her fund-raising effort. Being the game sold out in less than an hour, it’s too bad the price wasn’t doubled from the $5 charge.

These words stuck with me this week: “Our hearts are battered, but they will mend. The world is broken, but it will be healed in the end.” (By the mother of the recently beheaded American)

This past Wednesday was World Toilet Day. When I announced to start the week, Vanessa provided this outstanding link from the BBC about the day … and it is worth seeing! Thanks Vanessa!

The On Perceptions post from earlier in the week is an idea that came to me more than a year ago … so it was good to finally post it.

Over 8 feet (240+ cm) of snow south of Buffalo … That seems unbelievable!

Life: The Musical has been running every other week starting on a Wednesday night into Thursday. With next week being Thanksgiving in the US, I will temporarily shift curtain time to Tuesday at 9:30 pm (US Eastern). Therefore, I will continue to step outside of normal protocol, thus announce right now ….. Act 13 will have much leeway, thus many choices because it’s about Positive Emotions, so all song titles must include a positive emotion in the song title, BUT, love is not acceptable.

With a series of busy weekends on the horizon, I’m unsure about the next Saturday Morning Cartoon post.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) World Hello Day, Stuffing Day, False Confessions Day, Alascattalo Day (Alaska & Humor), Beaujolais Nouveau Day, Television Day
  • (Sat) Start Your Own Country Day (Anglestan), Cranberry Relish Day, Go for a Ride Day, Humane Society Day, Family Volunteer Day, Adoption Day, Survivors of Suicide Day, Stop the Violence Day
  • (Sun) Fibonacci Day (a past post for your celebration), Doctor Who Day, Jukebox Day, Mother Goose Day, Eat a Cranberry Day, Buy Nothing Day, You’re Welcome-Giving Day, Aura Awareness Day

To send you into the weekend, here’s some high energy from a concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. (Look closely, we may spot Debra in the crowd) … It’s the Doobie Brothers with China Grove. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On the Weakening Independent Votes

Knowing the importance of capturing independents in an election, a good friend of mine (a loyal Democrat) is troubled by the polls showing President Obama’s weakening support among independents, so he asked me to write a post on this topic. I may take a take a beating on this one, but such is life in publishing.

Before starting, not only are most independents not aligned with a party, independents also position themselves in their own right-to-left spectrum. Since I lean left on some issues and right on others, I view myself as a pragmatic centrist – or a mirror of what many say that the US is a center-right nation that has many fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters.

I realize that both the right and the left want our votes and money, but not our views. In the spirit of objectivity and not partisan talking points, below are 10 shorts points (in no particular order) about why independent support for President Obama has weakened.

1) Independents are hungry for one who unites, and felt President Obama would fill that task. He spent a lot of political capital on two early legislative bills: the stimulus and health care. Whether or not the Democrats shutout the Republicans or the GOP was unwilling to play, independents were not happy with the process and outcome because of the appearance of party dominance, thus business as usual.

2) The Stimulus Bill had several issues tied to it: too much pork and failure to sell it for what it was – aid to state and local governments. President Obama passed on this good opportunity for a veto to set a tone of expected political cooperation. Meanwhile, the public remains misinformed about this act because leadership did not clearly explain it.

3) Regarding health care, if one is going to have a nationalized statue whose due process leads it directly to federal court, tort reform was a common sense addition that did not make it into the bill. Besides, the bill is too cumbersome, thus could have been accomplished with much fewer pages.

4) Many independents are socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. In other words, through efficient, prudent fiscal management, social programs are viable. Although efficient and prudent are not good adjectives of the government, this oxymoron remains a noble aim and one that this administration yet to embrace.

5) Independents see the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 as an inept attempt to regulate financial activity that was not permissible a short time ago. Instead of adding more regulations, why not return to the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 that controlled the financial industry for more than a half of century. Nope, the administration followed their health care legislation model of something bigger than it needs to be.

6) No matter the president or their party affiliation, independents want a president to challenge his own party by throwing down a challenge or embracing an idea from the other party. Although the Democratic left currently has a feeling of abandonment, independents have not seen the political gauntlet.

7) Independents realize that the previous administration left this administration many situations that were out of their control. On the other hand, a time comes when it when one must accept a degree of ownership and responsibility – and that is simply a fault for most, if not all, of Washington continues to elude.

8] The federal budget, including its deficit, debt, and related items, is an important national issue – not a special-interest play toy fronted by politics. Address the issues requires difficult decisions, and independents seek meaningful solutions beyond short-term tinkering based on political dogma and aspirations. This creates an opportunity for President Obama to regain the confidence of independents.

9) Yes, President Obama has much on his plate. As he now claims to pivot to focus on the economy, that statement in itself identities a problem – he lost sight of the economy as the top issue. Nonetheless, given a global economy with many US companies continuing to place jobs outside of here, this is a monumental task for anyone.

10) Independents want to see a vision with a plan and action toward that vision for solving important national problems. Unfortunately, independents see President Obama as more reactive than proactive – more pondering than deciding, continued blame shifting, and following the Washington pattern of business as usual.

However, there is also good news. Weak support by independents for President Obama does not directly translate into a positive vote for the GOP candidate. The craziness factor among the current GOP field actually works in President Obama’s favor. Even as we hear about Republicans not being happy with their field, independents are even less enamored.

President Obama also has several personal intangibles that are positive that can translate into votes – he is bright, honorable, likeable, and unlike Republicans, independents want to see him succeed. Other positives exist, but this post aims to give a friend something to think about for when we get together.

Bottom line is simple: Although independents may be seeking an alternative to President Obama, much can happen between today and November 2012. Support may be weakened, but it is not broken. On the other hand, independents would rather have their support for President Obama strengthened by his actions instead of the Republican Party and candidate that we cannot support pushing us toward President Obama. Keep in mind that a sensible GOP nominee could shift the playing field – but the question remains, does one exist?

On Random Post-Election Thoughts

On the Two-Way Street
Rightfully so, many are wondering how well President Obama will work with House Republicans, but I also ask one addition question: How well will House Republicans will work with President Obama?

On Mr. Boehner’s Job
In my own warped view, I feel sorry for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the one who presumably has the task of leading the GOP Civil War. It will be interesting to see how he manages the divisions in his party, and working with President Obama.

On the other hand, Mr. Boehner is already using the results to suggest a mandate for GOP policies. In his WSJ opinion, Senator DeMint (R-SC) drew a line in the sand for the Tea Party members. Senator McConnell’s has well publicized that ousting President Obama in 2012 is his top priority. Warning: Independents will not buy that product.

On My Take
My suggestion of governing from the center is throughout this blog. Nevertheless, the overlapping center of the two parties no longer exists, which leads to an all-or-nothing approach.

Republicans say Democrats would not listen; Democrats say Republicans would not play. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that problem – yet America re-elected the majority of incumbents seeking a return to Washington.

President Obama campaigned about bridging the dividing, hence one reason how he captured the majority of independents. Whether by choice, necessity, haste, or simply the way Washington works, he did not deliver – thus Tuesday’s results.

Contrary to what many believe, we pragmatics believe that voters elect presidents to lead a nation – not lead a party. Although a political ideology frames any elected official, a president needs to know when to shove, when to compromise, and when to give way. Heaven forbid if Capitol Hill did the same. Therefore, unless their is an unexpected significant event that brings the nation together, the next two years could be ugly.

On Smoking Lettuce

I wonder what I was doing in early June when the world learned that on the fabled floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) made a plea to ban smoking lettuce. And the debate hasn’t continued? No ads pitting the battle between the vegetable lobby and the medical lobby? No calls that Washington is ruled by communistic tyrants? Have the French banned smoking lettuce?

There must be a division along party lines! Conventional wisdom tells us that Republicans would oppose this regulation. On the other hand, the agriculture union workers support the Democrats … that’s it! So is Rep. Buyer attempting to break the union or is he simply looking after the health and welfare of the American public?