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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 7, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4 — Herald-ZEfTUNc — Friday, January 7, 2011 FORUM AP News Analysis Polarized Congress when US voters seeking pragmatism By Liz Sidoti AP National Political Writer I here's an inherent conflict in the country's new political reality: a much more polarized Congress must answer to an increasingly powerful center of the electorate that abhors partisanship or risk its wrath in 2012. Much like President Bill Clinton after his party's disastrous 1994 elections, President Barack Ohama now has the chance to shift to the middle as leaders on ( apiiol Hill struggle to strike a balance between the desires of ideological purists in their ranks and the independent, centrist voters who played a significant role in electing them. For Republicans and Democrats, that task began Wednesday when the new Congress was sworn in; Republicans assumed control of the House and padded their numbers in the Democratic-lod Senate. There's going to be politics. That’s what happens in Washington. They are going to play to their base for a certain period of time. But I ’m pretty confident that they re going to recognize that our job is to govern. My hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012," Obama said this week about GOP leaders in the House and Senate, casting himself as the compromiser in chief even while maneuvering for his upcoming re-election. The president's tone was in stark contrast to his first two years when he leveraged large Democratic majorities in Congress — and thwarted Republicans — to enact sweeping laws, including an economic stimulus measure and revamps of the health care and financial regulatory systems, that independents greeted skeptically if not derisively. After backing him heavily in his presidential bid. they punished him in November by ending one-party rule in Washington. Now, with no serious Democratic primary challenger emerging to siphon support from his liberal base, Obama already has begun moving to the center. As 2010 ended, he compromised with Republicans to reach bipartisan deals on tax cuts that paved the way for a rush of end of year legislation, including repealing the ban on gays openly serving in the military as well as a new nuclear treaty' with Russia. It s clear die 2012 elections are in everyone's sights with obvious objectives: Obama needs to win back middle-of-the-road voters, and Republicans need to keep them happy, or at least not anger them. Their power was strongly felt in the last three elections. In 2006 and 2008, independents furious with Republican governance gave Democrats power in Congress and the White House. By 2010. these voters had grown disillusioned by' Democratic rule and sided widi the GOP And their sway is only growing. Today, more Americans ¿ire identifying themselves as independent while majorities of the country' view both the Democratic and Republican parties unfavorably. Disaffected Republican and Democratic operatives are forming groups to advocate on behalf of it not organize — unaffiliated voters, indicating that momentum may be building among the center for increased political action. So, given all that, how did the Republican and Democratic caucuses in Congress end up so much more conservative and liberal? 1 he two-party American political system produces polarization in Congress. Both the Republican and die Democratic parties hold primaries to choose general election candidates. Those nominating contests are dominated by the most vocal, active party members conservatives and liberals who tend to support like-minded people. l.ast year, that situation was even more pronounced as die tea party coalition roiled GOP primaries and produced Republican nominees who were far more conservative than usual. Now. the House Republican roster includes some seven dozen tea party-backed lawmakers and other staunch conservatives. And moderate "Blue Dog" Democrats are virtually extinct: scores lost their swing-voting districts in a coast-to-coast GOP wave. Com promise is a dirty word to the new members of Congress and a vital word to the people they’ were sent to represent," said Matt Bennett, a former Clinton ¿tide and a vice president of the centrist Democratic group Third Way. "It’s a more polarized House representing an electorate that is really seeking moderation. There's a big disconnect between their caucuses and their voters." The Senate is arguably less polarized than the House: Democrats succeeded in limiting the number of GOP takeaways to six. Still, new Republican senators include tea party-supported Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, as well as conservatives Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio of Florida. From the outset, it’s clear that Boehner is trying to strike a balance between his constituents and his members. The challenge for Boehner is to avoid what happened after the 1994 Republican Revolution when the GOP took control of Congress. Back then, House Speaker Newt Gingrich failed to keep his rabble-rousing conservative warriors in line, leading to a government shutdown. Clinton came out on top, and handily won re-election in i vFvfO. Herald-Zeitung s.-, t /rtje New Braunfei» and i ,mal County dnct IH52. New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852, New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890 The fwo papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958 Editor and Publisher Managing Editor Circulation Director Business Manager Advertising Director Doug Toney Autumn Phillipe Jeff Fowler Rosie Willingham Timothy Tergeoglou Wm Mil United States Government * JflN-Z ^50 GOP base will believe anything Now that the Mighty' Republican Art Players have retaken control of the House of Representatives, we must pay the price in symbolic gestures. YVith the GOP’s ability to accomplish its alleged goals circumscribed by the Democratic Senate and President Obama’s veto, there's no limit to their ability to strike theatrical poses. Hie GOP's FOX-intoxicated "base" will believe anything. Witness the resurrection of Sarah Palin’s death panels" falsehood. Designated the 2009 "Lie of die Year" by, the fact-checking website of the St. Petersburg Times, Palin’s grotesque inversion of reality spooked many senior voters into believing that "Obamacare* would bring mercy killing to the United States. What we’re fixing to find out as Speaker Boehner stage-manages a purely symbolic vote to repeal the 2010 law is whether anybody outside the Tea Party can be duped again. Also whether Democrats, given a second chance to explain "Obamacare," can expose the GOP's fraudulent claims. So far, the omens aren't good. Thanks to an astonishingly dumb e-mail by a Democratic congressman, some characteristic pussyfooting by The New York Times and the customary brazen GENELYONS Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President. ” E-mail Lyons at [email protected] The sessions would be entirely voluntary, and strictly between doctor and patient. No committees, panels, nor oversight, No required outcomes. A patient might tell his doctor to keep him alive at all costs. Or not. The doctor would explain his or her ethical responsibilities, insurance carriers would pay for the appointment. The end. Then Sarah Palin posted on Face-book: " The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their level of productivity in society’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil." The right-wing noise machine roared into action. Millions of Americans, seniors in particular, were taken in. Surely a trusted figure like Sarah Palin wouldn’t lie. Rather than waste months trying to persuade gullible voters that Palin had manufactured a hysterical falsehood out of thin air, the Senate removed Section 1233 from the health care bill. That was that until a Jan. 1 story in The New York Times revealed that new Medicare regula- PRESIDENT ■ Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Wab: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fax: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2409 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ■ Henry Cuellar 1404 Longworth House Office Bunding Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-1640 Fax: (202) 225-1641 Web address: SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 615 E. Houston St. San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 271-2851 Fax: (210) 277-6671 GOVERNOR HOW TO CONTACT .    ,7    .--J--------wu.u itvvtuiu mal IR-VV mcuiidJC ictuia- dishonesty of right-wing media, Palm s imaginary tions propounded bv the Obama administration Cllth'inocio ir I-*    s-*L»    »Ln      Z'v__________•    « «    ... euthanasia is back in the news. Once again, the White House punted. But hold that thought. The entire farce is a perfect example of how politics makes people stupid. In their private lives, millions of Americans grapple intelligendv with the kinds of harrowing decisions created by modern medical technology. There s hardly anybody old enough to remember, say, Captain Kangaroo who hasn’t attended a loved one’s last days unsure about how to proceed. Who decides? What would your loved one have wanted? Would that have been the right decision? Without getting maudlin. I shall never forget the surgeon who advised my siblings and me that he’d refuse to perform a proposed operation that might have prolonged our 92-year-old mother s suffering for a couple of weeks without curing her terminal illness, assuming she survived the ordeal. As he was the only surgeon within a 150 miles qualified to do the procedure, he spared us having to vote among ourselves. Medicare would have paid a handsome fee. The doctor chose compassion. Some of us needed his permission to let go. Feelings ran high, but in the aftermath, we all believed he'd done the right thing. It s precisely to assist doctors and their patients in making such tough choices that Section 1233 of the health care law existed. It proposed to pay doctors for counseling patients one-on-one about end-of-life decisions. would cover voluntary advance-care planning." A preamble explained that research had shown that advance care planning improves end-of-life care and patient and family satisfaction and reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives." Too polite to expose Palin's fraud, The Times explained that her claims about Section 1233 were merely "unsubstantiated’’ — craven he-said, she-said journalism of most timid kind. It also quoted a celebratory e-mail sent by Oregon Democratic congressman Earl Blumenauer cautioning supporters not to send celebratory e-mails — the political equivalent of a man posting a nude photo of himself and his mistress on Facebook. What a doofus. Except that the Obama administration had nothing to hide. Not that it's prevented the usual suspects from the usual distortions. Columnist Cal Thomas trumpeted that Palin deserves an apology, as patients' private appointments with their doctors would somehow "inevitably lead to bureaucrats deciding who is 'fit' to live and who is not." How B follows from A, Thomas never explains. A physician, the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer never quite condemned the policy but railed against government by regulation — always bad when Democrats do it. Rather than refight the battle, the White House caved. Nothing prevents doctors and patients from talking anyway. Letter to the Editor Field turf only tip of iceberg of CISD wasteful spending This is a follow up to the letter about the waste of CISD taxpayer's money. People have no idea just how much waste is really going on. Having worked for the district for many years, I sadly saw so much waste that is would sicken people if they knew what the superintendent and his circle of protection have wasted. The campus fields are just the tip of the iceberg. Although the spending of $800,000 is justified because it is bond money, does that make it free? CISD also bought an $80,000 street sweeper. When times are hard, why do we need a street sweeper? Also, a John Deere Mule ($40,000) stored in the warehouse, used only sparingly to travel the 300 or so yards to CHS. Really sad. If there was not a 250-word limit, I could list much, much more. The real travesty is this waste is approved by a majority of the school board members. People need to realize just how much tax money waste is being done by the superintendent and his clique and approved by a school board majority. Believe me, the list goes on. Frank Forshage New Braunfels Texas Government ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Doug Miller EXT El.216 RO. Box 2910 Austin TX 78768-2910 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512)463-5896 ■ John Kuempel Rm. CAP 3N.06 Austin TX 78701 Telephone: (512) 463-0602 STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 925 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: 888-824-6984 E-mail address: [email protected] NEW BRAUNFELS CITY COUNCIL 424 S. Castell Ave. RO. Box 311747, New Braunfels, TX 78131-1747 (830) 221-4000 ■ Mayor Bruce Boyer [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4507 ■ Dist. 1 Councilor Richard Zapata rzapata @ Telephone: Extension 4501 ■ Dist. 2 Councilor Mark Goodner [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4502 ■ Dist. 3 Councilor Mike Ybarra [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4503 ■ Dist. 4 Councilor Sandy Nolte [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4504 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Kathleen Krueger [email protected] Telephone: Extension 4505 ■ Dist. 6 Councilor Steven Digges [email protected] Telephone:. Extension 4506 Comal County Commissioners' Court 199 Main Plaza, New Braunfels (830) 221-1100 ■ COUNTV JUDGE SHERMAN KRAUSE krause Telephone: (830) 221-1105 ■ PCT. 1 COMMISSIONER DONNA ECCLESON [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1101 ■ PCT. 2 COMMISSIONER SCOn HAAG [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1102 ■ PCT. 3 COMMISSIONER 6REG PARKER [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1103 ■ PCT. 4 COMMISSIONER JAN KENNADY [email protected] Telephone: (830) 221-1104 ;