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The Top Ten Political Events of 2010

Bookmark and Share     2010 saw its share of disasters and fighting. In Haiti a 7.0 earthquake killed 230,000, left 300,000 injured, and a million more homeless. In Afghanistan, America continued to fight for stability and in doing so, saw its highest casualty numbers of the war.

2010 also saw its share of corruption and scandal. Charlie Rangel was censured for his abuses, General Stanley McChrystal was relieved of duty after strongly criticizing Administration policies and officials in a Rolling Stones profile and former Senator and Democrat vice presidential candidate, John Edwards, finally admitted to being the father of an illegitimate child and by year‘s end would see the loyal wife he cheated on, die of cancer.

In politics, 2010 was certainly a year that produced plenty of suspense and surprise. It was a year that saw political power shift, military might flexed, history made, and environmental havoc wreaked. It was a year that challenged the popularity and abilities of President Obama, challenged the American people with economic austerity and the world with nuclear threat. The following 10 events are indicative of just how much so. They are happenings that have either been initiated by politics or had a profound effect on the politics that shaped, or will shape our world.

The order in which they are presented is based upon a combination of media attention, dramatic change, and a mix of both short and long term effects on our nation and the world. Two political eves which were runner ups to the list included Wikileaks and passage of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange proved that one man and a keyboard could make dozens of  many powerful world leaders cringe all at once?  And in doing so he has created some serious freedom of speech and information issues.  As for DADT, it was one of the most dramatic military policy changes in decades and whether you believe it to be a civil rights issues or a military decision, it was profound . 

Two other political  issues which fell short of the top 10 list included the nonevents which were the continued lack of a decision by the Obama Administration regarding how to try enemy combatants and if, how and when to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay.On these two issues, President Obama has proven to speak before he thought and in trying to placate his disenchanted liberal base, has not found a suitable way for reversing his original positions, positions which the truth of reality have forced the President to stall admitting that he was wrong to initially want.

But as for those events which involved the situations handled and decisions made or carried out by political figures, legislative bodies or voters, here are the top 10.

 

10. – End To Combat Mission In Iraq

On August 31st , the long war in Iraq was “officially’ declared over. In getting to this point, President Obama continued the Bush policy and timeline which brought us to that point. To his credit, President Obama did invoke the name of former President George W. Bush and offered him praise by stating that no one could doubt his predecessors “support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”  In a prime time address to the nation, President Obama declared that “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.” But to say the least, the page remains dog-eared, as approximately 50,000 troops are left in Iraq for the foreseeable future to advise and assist Iraqi security forces.  

9. Shelling of South Korea

On November 23rd, North Korea fired a barrage of artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians and leaving dozens of families homeless. The unprovoked attack prompted South Korea to scramble F-16 fighter jets and return fire. It also forced Seoul to place its military on its highest non-wartime alert level. The attacks also proved, once again, how absolutely erratic and dangerous the North Korean regime is. In March, again unprovoked, North Korea fired on and sunk a South Korean ship. That event killed 46 sailors . It is said that the secretive and reclusive North Korean regime performs stunts like this and makes threats of even bolder military action, all in the name of posturing for negotiations. But at some point in time, violence can not be accepted in negotiations and if North Korea keeps pushing in this fashion, it will eventually force others to push back. Between these two incidents, its nuclear ambitions and its long range missile capabilities, Pyongyang proves to be a disturbing threat to peace and stability in the increasingly important region of Asia. With its burgeoning economies, the world can little afford war on the Korean peninsula. Nor could we afford the risk of drawing China and our Japanese ally into a war. If 2011 sees North Korea acting the same as it did in 2010, expect the current focus on the Middle East to shift further East.                            

 8. –Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

In 2010 it became more apparent than ever that Iran was close to becoming a nuclear power, a fact that could change the Middle East and life as we know it.  It became quite clear that Iran had the ability to enrich uranium and experts now believe that it could produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a bomb anywhere from within a few months to two years. As usual, talk seems to do little to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities and after 18 years of hiding their nuclear enrichment program, UN Security Council resolutions ordering Iran to suspend development have failed to stop Iran from moving ahead. If some kind of arrangement is not soon made to keep Iran from gaining the ability to develop nuclear weapons, the situation could fall upon Israel, the small nation which Iran’s President has promised to push off the face of the earth. But if Israel were to act, how would the surrounding nations of Islam deal with its aftermath?

7. –  The Ground Zero Mosque

Whether or not anyone has the right to build a mosque in the immediate area surrounding ground zero of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was never the question. But whether or not it is appropriate, is the question. Should a religious house of worship for Islam, rise from the rubble of the attacks that extremists waged in the name of Islam? For the left,….. the politically correct, sensitive left, it should be easy to understand that the answer is “no“. However, regardless of political correctness it is true that our Constitution permits freedom of religion and there exists no legal right to prohibit the building of a Mosque in an area that is zoned for such construction. This situation dominated the news and politics for months as it consumed headlines and our attention.  And till this day, many are still trying to find a compromise that would allow for the construction of this mosque, but in a location other than ground zero.

 

6. – Unemployment

In November it rose and as it went up, the hopes of our sluggish economy picking up steam anytime soon went down. Despite promises by President Obama that his stimulus package would soon get unemployment down to a still too high 8.00%, it is rising and worst of all, it comes during the holiday season, when employment usually ticks up, and unemployment ticks down. But although November was particularly bad, unemployment ruled the headlines and the economy throughout the year and has placed millions into dire straits and highlights deeper troubles within the economy. Through it all the political Party in power not only failed to effectively combat unemployment, they at times seemed to go out of their way to convince the American people that they aren’t even capable of doing anything about it. Nancy Pelosi called government spending a jobs bill and Harry Reid once even said that it was a great day in America because only 160,000 Americans lost their jobs during a particular month. The long standing high unemployment rate will keep on weighing down President Obama and until he understands how to allow free enterprise to create jobs and what the real economic engine of America is, he will continue to simply tinker with the numbers and miss his target of his still too high 8% unemployment rate .  Although, when compared to 10%, it would be an improvement.

5. – The Arizona Immigration Law

The bill simply enofrced fedral laws at the state level, yet the Obama Administration and liberal illegal immgration advocates lost control and flipped out.  They called it unconstitutional and subsequently took Arizona to court over itsx new law.  For months this story fueled itself with large protetsts by by pro-illegal immigration groups and  SEIU union members,  and counter protests that energized an already energetic TEA Party movement.

 

4. – Gulf Oil Disaster

It was the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history and it was the first real crisis of the Obama Administration. How did they handle it? Miserably. The first reaction to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico was slow and initially directed toward blaming it on George Bush. But as time went on, and it was shown that haphazard application of regulations assisted the disaster, it was also discovered that BP, the owners of the facility gave President Obama a million dollars in campaign donations and shortly before the Deepwater Horizon blew up, receive a safety award by the Obama Administration. But the more egg that was on the President’s face, the more oil lapped onto the Gulf shore states, particularly Louisiana, a state that is in many ways still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. For months the oil gushed from the under see pipes that once flowed to the top of the Deepwater Horizon. In all, between April 20th when the rig exploded and July 15th when the gusher was finally plugged, a continuous flow of a total of 4,300,000 barrels of oil was said to have poured into the Gulf. The episode had a profound effect on the economies of the Gulf states, closed down the fishing and shrimping industries and left Americans lacking the confidence in President Obama’s ability to effectively handle crisis. 

   3. – 2010 Midterm Elections

Two years ago, left wing commenators and pundits claimed the G.O.P was dead and going the way of the Whigs.  But in what proved to be a tidal wave election of historic proportions, Republicans won a remarkable 691 state legislative seats, shattering the old record which was held by Democrats in the post Watergate election of 1974, when they picked up 629 seats. Along the way, those numbers allowed the G.O.P. to increase thier stregnth by winning control of 18  various state legislative chambers and control of both state legislative chambers in 26 states. In addition to that, Republicans elected 7 new Governors bringing the total up to 29 G.O.P. Governors and allowing for complete control of state government with majorities in the the statehouses and the upper and lower houses of as many as 21 states, a sign that does not bode well for Democrats in the upcoming redistricting process.  In all, Republicans now have the largest majority for the Party since 1928.   Beyond state government, Republicans picked up a total of 63 House seats and 6 U.S. Senate seats. The historic number of House pickups was one of the largest number of seats gained in an election in over a generation and give the G.O.P. one of it largest majority margins ever. The 2010 election produced a truly profound political change. It not only gave Republicans control of the House and many statehouses and legislatures, it also gave them the ability to determine the political landscape for the next ten years as they take a very large upper hand in redistricting. In the years to come, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama will surely learn to regret having misread the American people quite as much as they did during 2010.

 2. – Election of Scott Brown

This event seems to have faded away in the hearts and minds of most but truth be told, the election of Republican Scott Brown to replace Ted Kennedy as one of Massachusetts two U.S. Senators, was quite profound and a sign of just how dissatisfied with the direction of the nation, voters had become. In fact it was the beginning of the 2010 midterm elections and a sign of what was to come . After channeling voter anger and capitalizing on disenchantment with the President’s agenda, underdog Scott Brown made Massachusetts political history after by pulling off an upset victory and becoming the first Republican elected to the senate from Massachusetts since Edward Brooks was first elected to the position in 1966. But more than that was the legacy of Ted Kennedy which Brown had to in many ways, run against. Ted Kennedy was the third longest U.S. Senator in history. He held the seat for more than 5 decades and during that time became known as the Liberal Lion. But in the wake of the anti-liberal sentiments sweeping the nation, even Ted Kennedy’s legacy could not help Scott Brown’s liberal Democrat opponent, State Attorney General Martha Coakley, to pull this election out. The selection of Scott Brown was a true sign of things to come and proof that the national political map was going to turn not Republican red or Democrat blue, but TEA Party ‘Brown”. Eight months later it did. 

1. – Passage of Obamacare

The passage of health reform probably had more impact on politics than it did on healthcare. At least once it’s repealed in whole or found unconstitutional by the courts.  It certainly had a profound effect on the balance of power in America. After more than a year of closed door, partisan negotiations, the health reform bill was passed in the face of unprecedented political opposition to it which increased every day that the debate continued. It was finally approved after unprecedented amounts of kickbacks and political payoffs were offered to legislators in exchange for their vote for the unpopular bill and even though liberals did not feel it went far enough, and that moderates and conservatives believed it went too far. Yet on  Sunday, March 21st, Obamacare passed despite the fact that it actually raised healthcare premiums and after the House even considered passing it without voting on the measure, and instead, just deeming it passed. The entire process regarding the healthcare bill, from its debate to its actual vote, demonstrated all the worst of a legislative process which Democrats were abusing. It demonstrated how unwilling Democrats were to listen to the people and most of all, it showed just how antithetical to the Constitution and the American free enterprise system that the federal government has become. So much so that their attempt to take control of 1/6 of the American economy fueled the birth of a Taxed Enough Already movement that would be the downfall of Democrats and a wake up call for Republicans. The unsavory passage of Obamacare was an example of left wing liberalism being so extreme that it forced many Americans to see that government was less divided by left and right than it was between right and wrong. The result was an electorate that forced Republicans and Democrats to look at the Constitution of the United States and refer to it before they passed laws that went beyond the rightful power of the federal government. And on November 2rd, the result was a resounding rejection of Obamacare, Democrats and the Obama agenda. All in all, passage of the healthcare reform bill was in many ways historic. It was one of the most significant and sweeping social programs since LBJ and even FDR. It was also one of the most incoherent, convoluted, unenforceable and unconstitutional pieces of legislation ever to be made into law, and it prompted a most historic transfers of power in the House of Representatives.

With all that, 2010 ends on the same note that it began. It ends with us having hope, hope that our political leaders will act responsibly. Hope that our economy will improve and that rogue nations and regimes will see the light. As 2010 ends, we hope that 2011 will be a year where the lessons of years past are remembered and that we as a people, move in the right direction rather than the wrong one.

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Democrats Cut A Deal To Get Rangel Off The Hook

Bookmark and Share Apparently the embattled, ethically challenged, tax evading liberal Congressman from New York made a few friends in the House during his forty years in  Congress.

Despite his illegal use of the House  parking lot to store an extra Mercedes Benz of his, and despite abusing rent control laws for his re-election campaigns and not claiming taxes on a Caribbean villa that  he rented out, Charlie Rangel struck a deal with his liberal colleagues that will allow him to stay in Congress and run for a twenty first term.

The terms of the deal are as of yet unknown, but no matter what the arrangement, Democrats avoided an trial that would have proven embarrassing to both their Party and Charlie Rangel.

As the one time powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the committee that  ironically, writes the very tax code that he avoided,  Rangel’s crimes were particularly heinous.  They were indicative of the political class’  arrogance and belief that they are above the laws that they write.

By cutting a deal to slap Rangel on the wrist for his crimes, the Democrat Party takes another step in confirming this arrogance.  They also continue to move toward the midterm elections with even more baggage.  The b est scenario for Democrats here would have been for Charlie Rangel to resign.  But Rangel is one of the most egocentric, power hungry arrogant member of Congress that there ever was.  As such, he refused to step down.

But now his Party has backed down from doing the right thing, standing up to Rangel and holding a public trial.

Even if there is a deal, it would still have to be approved by a House adjudication panel.  But hey, do you really expect Cahrlie’s buddies not to cave?

I guess this isn’t really a big a story.  Actually it is just business as usual.  But didn’t Madame Pelosi and our President promise that their leadership would be far from business as usual?  In fact, didn’t Speaker Pelosi promise to “drain the swamp” in Congress?  She hasn’t drained it.

She has merely polluted it more than ever before.

Is it November yet?

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Rangel Tries To Wrangle A Deal

Bookmark and Share As pressure mounts on Democrats and New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, word is that the embattled Congressman is now trying to cut a deal to avoid an embarrassing House ethics trial.

For almost two years, House Democrats have stalled on there investigation of the scandal prone Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. But as pressure mounted and cursory investigations indicated that Rangel had indeed taken part in multiple breaches of conduct, Rangel stepped down from that post. Since then the ongoing investigation continued to produce evidence of wrongdoing that continued to tighten the noose around Rangel’s neck.

Through it all, Congressman Rangel has been extremely obnoxious to reporters who have asked him any questions regarding the matter. But since the House has determined that a trial is in order, Rangel has made it clear that he looks forward to the trial and sees it as an opportunity to clear him of any wrongdoing. Yet despite the denials and false bravado of Rangel, most people are not buying his claims of innocence.

Several Democrat House members have even recently called up Rangel to simply resign.

Doing so will help Democrats to avoid a drawn out public trial of one of their own that and avoid solidifying the souring public image that voters have this Congress as they enter the midterm elections.

But if Democrat House leaders do choose to cut a deal with Rangel, they will still risk making this a campaign issue that will used against them. In the currently fed up atmosphere of the electorate, giving Charlie Rangel a simple slap on the wrist will be a slap in the face of many voters who are tired of the political class getting away with murder and protecting their own and exempting them from living by the rules that they apply to everyone else.

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The Means and Way for Charlie Rangel To Resign As Chairman of Ways and Means

Bookmark and Share   The Ways and Means Committee is an extremely powerful panel to be a member of . The Committee has jurisdiction overall taxation and tariffs and revenue raising activities and activities that include, Medicare, Social Security, Ways And Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangelunemployment benefits, and all other federal welfare programs and benefits. They clearly do more than just write our tax code and they obviously have great sway over just about every dime and dollar that exchanges hands.

The committee is so powerful that its members are precluded from participation in other congressional committees. As it is, because of the wide jurisdiction that it has over finances, being on the Ways and Means Committee pretty much assures that its committee members have a say in all other policies. With all things considered, the only thing more powerful than membership on the Ways and Means Committee is being the chairman of it. Such power should not be held by just anyone. It should be held by someone who is, at least responsible and at most, above reproach.

Given the nature of human beings, being above reproach may be difficult but what isn’t hard would be having a chairman who could appear as being above reproach. That is why current circumstances are so troubling these days.

These days, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel and Charlie is not exactly a figure who instills the type of public trust that one would normally like to see in his very powerful position. In fact, in the case of Charlie Rangel, it is just the opposite. He is one of the least trusted members there is in Congress today. That’s a pretty hard title to earn among a group of people, who as whole, are slightly less trusted than used cars salesmen, but for many reasons Charlie has earned that distinction.

Among the reasons for the lack of trust that exists in the 19 term Congressman are;

• Hundreds of thousands of dollars in income that he failed to report on his taxes or Congressional disclosure form

• Rangel worked to preserve a lucrative tax break for an oil-drilling company while at the same time, the company’s C.E.O. was pledging $1 million to a City College of New York educational center to be named in Rangel’s honor

• Used his Congressional office letterhead to solicit donors for the C.C.N.Y. educational center.

• Even though New York City and state regulations prevent the use of rent-controlled apartments for purposes other than as a primary residence, Rangel rents four rent-stabilized apartments in the same Harlem building, at well below market rates and uses them for campaign office space.

• Rangel flouted rules barring the storage of vehicles in the Congressional parking garage for more than 45 days and requirements that any vehicles there have license plates and a valid House parking sticker. For years the Congressman illegally stored his Mercedes Benz there.

• Rangel broke House rules on corporate-funded travel by taking took trips to the Caribbean that were funded and organized by an organization called the Carib News Foundation.

That last charge is particularly ironic. In 1970 Charlie Rangel defeated the man who previously held this Congressional seat. That man was Adam Clayton Powell. Powell was accused of a similar charge of misappropriated Committee funds for his personal use and other charges including personal trips to Bimini. The charges and evidence against Powell were so evident that Congress expelled him. After the people of his congressional district still elected Powell to Congress in a special election to fill the seat that he was expelled form the House refused to seat him but a Supreme Court ruling declared the action unconstitutional. The controversial career of Adam Clayton Powell finally came to an end only after Charlie Rangel defeated Powell in a primary in 1970.

Now 39 years later Rangel is seen as conducting actions as reckless and corrupt as the predecessor that he ousted due to many of the same reasons that Rangel now finds himself charged with.

Until now, Democrats have been quiet about their powerful Ways and Means Committee Chairman. Republicans however have not been so quiet. Seeing that Rangel has violated regulations of the House and the I.R.S. many members of the G.O.P. do not believe it is proper to have the fox in charge of the henhouse. That is why they are about to present a resolution from Texas Republican Congressman John Carter. It is a “dump Rangel” resolution that calls for Rangel to step down as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee until the ever growing list of ethic probes that he faces are completed.

Personally, I am torn on the issue.

This is America and we are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty so I have to ask myself if Rangel should actually step down until it is proven that he is guilty of committing the violations that he is accused of.  After all, politics is a dirty business filled with treachery and backstabbing. That means any member of Congress can charge another member of a whole host of violations. If accusations alone were enough grounds for stepping down, plenty of people would throw out an array of accusations against others. The next in line for the position of chairman of the Ways and Means could easily become chairman himself if accusations alone warranted removal from the position. So I am not sure charges of violations are enough to even temporarily remove Rangel as chairman.

However, it is clear that Rangel is undoubtedly guilty of several charges. He has admitted as such. So even if Rangel is not guilty of them all, he is guilty of many. That being the case, I feel stepping down as chairman may be in order.

From a political perspective, I believe it is clear that Rangel’s level of impropriety certainly does not make him worthy of wielding so much power on such a so very powerful committee. He is not a trustworthy figure and it is easy to see that he is not above reproach. From that point of view, I believe Rep. Rangel should step aside. His continued service as Chairman of Ways and Means only helps to further taint an already tainted political process.

But at the same time, from a strictly partisan point of view, as a Republican, I hope Nancy Pelosi continues to stand behind Charlie.

As a Republican, I just love the negative impression that Rangel and liberal support for him will generate during next year’s 2010 midterm elections. People will be rightfully pissed Democrats are doing everything that they can to keep a man with as questionable ethics as Charlie Rangel in charge of the most powerful congressional committee in the country. If Democrats reject the Republican “dump Rangel” resolution they will not exactly be giving the impression of a political institution trying to combat the “culture of corruption”. In fact they will be going on record as supporting the political culture of corruption.

This is not just my opinion. It is thinking that many Democrats themselves have come to consider. That is why in New York, top democrats have been quietly trying to kill two birds with one stone. With the tanking poll numbers of Governor David Paterson, everyone from President Obama to local Democrat county chairman are hoping Paterson will step aside and allow for State Attorney General Cuomo to take the nomination for Governor and hopefully smoothly sail to victory in November of 2010.

To help make this happen, many Democrats are privately asking Charlie Rangel to resign so that they can avoid the embarrassment of Rangel’s unethical and illegal conduct and then offer Governor Paterson the newly vacated congressional seat. The hope being that the opportunity to represent New York in Congress will provide Paterson with a gracious exit of Albany and avoid state Democrats the bruising embarrassment of his potential gubernatorial candidacy.

This is scenario is probably very wishful thinking on the part of Democrats. I do not believe that Rangel will ever willfully give up anything and David Paterson is not likely to admit that he is a dismal failure as a governor. But the mere fact that Democrats are wishing for this to happen is encouraging. It shows that they are thinking and that both Congressman Rangel and Governor Paterson are problems for them.

All things considered, Rangel’s continued leadership role does not help anyone accept Republicans. From a partisan point of view, he is simply a drag. He is great fodder for Republicans to use as an example of institutional political corruption that Democrats tolerate and support. From a nonpartisan, good government stand point, Rangel’s institutional arrogance and blatant abuses of power are also a drag in that area. The American people are not served well by having unethical politicians holding positions of significant policy influence.

If Democrats want to serve the greater good of both their policy intentions and the American people, they will call for Rangel to step aside. If they care about good government they will support the dump Rangel resolution.

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