fresh voices from the front lines of change







Ted Cruz - CaricatureSanta Cruz came to town this week, when Sen. Ted Cruz (R, Texas) inadvertently gave Senate Democrats an early holiday gift. Democrats taunted Cruz and Republicans cursed him for pulling a parliamentary shenanigan that let Democrats push through two dozen nominations that Senate Republicans would have blocked next year.

Just as Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were close to getting a Senate vote on the $1.1 trillion “CRomnibus” bill, Cruz got cute and demanded a vote to defund President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Reid seized the opportunity to push through 24 nominations that would otherwise have gone nowhere. As a result:


No wonder Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina) told Roll Call, “I think most Republicans think that Christmas came early for Democrats.” “I haven’t seen Harry smile this much in years, and I didn’t particularly like it,” Graham added.

Cuba Libre

Barack Obama - Enjoying a CubanOn Wednesday, President Obama announced that the US will begin working to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba. The change was helped along by Cuba’s release of American aid worker Alan Gross, and special assistance from Pope Francis.

Ending the last of America’s “cold war” staring contests will lead to many changes, including the beginning of the end of the US embargo against Cuba, and the opening of an American embassy in Havanna. American companies are already scouting business opportunities in Cuba, which could boost Cuba’s lagging economy. The new policy could also open up new opportunities for economic growth in the American South. Southeastern states in particular could benefit from increased agricultural exports.

Cause to celebrate, right? Not if you’re a wingnut:


The president plans to lift several more restrictions against Cuba on his own — and he’s got some crucial popular support to do so. A Florida International University poll showed that 68 percent of Cuban-Americans in South Florida support normalizing relations with Cuba. Among younger Cuban-Americans, support jumped to 88 percent. The only age bracket of Cuban-Americans opposed to normalization is the over–70 crowd — the Republican base. (Did President Obama just give Hillary Clinton a political give for 2016?)

After 54 years of an embargo that’s accomplished little more than giving the Castro regime a convenient excuse for its economic failures, Republicans want to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Republicans in Congress are casting about for a strategy to block the president’s efforts to update US-Cuban relations. But they can’t do so without alienating a very important voting block in an electorally important state, and ticking off another important group by robbing businesses of potential profits.

Even if Republicans muster the votes to to pass sweeping legislation to block President Obama’s efforts, he still has veto power, and Republicans don’t have the votes to override. That’s a lose-lose for the GOP, but it leaves the president looking like one heck of a powerful “lame duck.”


Here’s the rest of the best of the worst in wingnuttery this week:


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