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Showing posts from August, 2011

Cold, detached, professorial???

Wow...he plans to go BIG! (updated x3)

Dan Pfeiffer just tweeted:

POTUS has requested a Joint Session of Congress at 8 PM on 9/7 to lay out his plan to create jobs, grow the economy, and reduce the deficit
I believe the last time he did this (other than regular SOTU speeches) was when health care reform was stuck in Congress.

To me, this means he's going all out on this one. And he's already let the Republicans know that if they block his proposals, he takes them on the campaign trail.

What's even more interesting is that this is the same night of the MSNBC GOP Presidential debate. I highly doubt that is a mistake.

UPDATE: Oh snap! At the press briefing today Jay Carney said that its up to NBC to decide what to do about their scheduled debate.

UPDATE 2: I can't tell you how much this announcement energizes me! For the last couple of weeks I feel like I've been sitting on my hands while the media trips over everything these nutjob Republican candidates say and the poutragers...well, while they do what…

What if you could buy a house with a 0% mortgage interest rate?

The Republicans have managed to scare much of the country into not investing in jobs or our country's future because of our deficit. Never mind that the Bush wars and tax cuts are the major culprit in creating that deficit. But there's another question we need to be asking ourselves about that issue. What is the risk involved with deficit spending?

Some colleges that are online have Economics courses for people who want to delve deeper into topics like this. Sometimes it takes even more knowledge about the inner workings of politics and economics to fully understand.
One way to answer that question is to think about a major factor most people consider when making their own long-term investment decisions...like taking out a loan to buy a house. Amongst other things, one item to consider is the interest rate you'll have to pay on that mortgage. We don't have to wonder what kind of decision we'd make if we needed a secure roof over our heads and mortgage rates were 0%…

The GOP Church

I'll bet you'd have a hard time guessing who said this:

Rick Perry’s rapid lead over previous Republican front-runner Mitt Romney was predictable. But it is not a good sign for Republicans hoping to reclaim the White House and further highlights the crucial battle within GOP circles: Who is the godliest of us all?

That’s the mirror-mirror question for Republicans. Forget charisma, charm, intelligence, knowledge and that nuisance, “foreign policy experience.” The race of the moment concerns which candidate is the truest believer...

Perry knows he has to make clear that God is his wingman. And this conviction seems not only to be sincere, but also to be relatively noncontroversial in the GOP’s church — and perhaps beyond. He understands that his base cares more that the president is clear on his ranking in the planetary order than whether he can schmooze with European leaders or, heaven forbid, the media. And this is why Perry could easily steal the nomination from Romney.

And al…

Not that I want to start up any pootie wars or anything...

;-)

Attacking the GOP's so-called "jobs agenda"

Last night I talked about the fact that we're going to need to be able to demonstrate how the GOP's so-called "jobs agenda" isn't one.

This morning Steven Benen gives us the slogan to do so.

The GOP leadership believes businesses might hire more if, for example, they were allowed to pollute more, while Democrats believe business might hire more if they had more customers.
There's a lot more info at the Jonathan Cohn article he linked to.

And Stephen Stromberg gives us this tidbit.

There are undoubted costs to environmental regulations. But there are also large benefits...every dollar spent on some of the measures Cantor is targeting — those cutting cross-state particulate and ozone pollution — will result in $30 in economic benefits from employees taking fewer sick days, a lower incidence of many chronic illnesses, and fewer early deaths. And let’s not even get into climate change.

Advancing the liberal agenda through good government

I am convinced that the basic building block to restoring a liberal vision in the United States is to re-affirm the public's trust in good government. The only way to tackle the magnitude of issues that face a country this large and diverse is through the only institution in which we all participate...government.

Over the years, the Republicans have done a great job of promoting mistrust in this one institution that can actually address our collective concerns. And yes, it was Ronald Reagan who gave that kind of thinking a big boost with statements like "Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem."

But more than making a speech about it - the Republicans have done everything they can think of to try to make this a reality. Of course the pinnacle of that was the failure of the federal government to deal with the devastation of hurricane Katrina. We all watched as the victims of that storm were left alone in their misery and the government l…

What Obama's jobs plan will be up against

The Republicans have a plan:

House Republicans are planning votes for almost every week this fall in an effort to repeal environmental and labor requirements on business that they say have hampered job growth.

With everyone from President Obama to his Republican challengers in the 2012 campaign focusing on ways to spur economic growth, House Republicans will roll out plans Monday to fight regulations from the National Labor Relations Board, pollution rules handed down by the Environmental Protection Agency and regulations that affect health plans for small businesses. In addition, the lawmakers plan to urge a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses.
They know that President Obama will be proposing a plan to grow jobs in the U.S. in a couple of weeks. And they also know that its the number one concern on the minds of American voters. So this is a little window into what they'll be proposing as an alternative.

I don't often do this, but on this one I disagree with BooMan a…

The old "I told you so" trick

Steve Benen catches Tom Friedman doing exactly what I suggested Trumka and the poutragers are up to.

Here's Freidman's advice:

As for America, we’ve thrived in recent decades with a credit-consumption-led economy, whereby we maintained a middle class by using more steroids (easy credit, subprime mortgages and construction work) and less muscle-building (education, skill-building and innovation).

It’s put us in a deep hole, and the only way to dig out now is a new, hybrid politics that mixes spending cuts, tax increases, tax reform and investments in infrastructure, education, research and production. But that mix is not the agenda of either party.
And Benen's response:

It’s not? Let’s see, a combination of long-term cuts, combined with additional revenue, with an emphasis on boosting investments in infrastructure, education, research, and production. Why does this sound familiar? Because it’s President Obama’s agenda. It’s not as if the White House has made an effort to keep…

De-evolution

Seriously...I get bored with tracking down every nutty thing the Republican presidential candidates say. I feel that tension between wanting to demonstrate how ridiculous they are and giving them credence they don't deserve. But they're at it a mile-a-minute these days and I feel like taking on every crazy utterance would leave me with time for nothing else.

But I couldn't resist this one. It really captures most everything I'd want to say about all of them.

Know-it-alls

Gawd, I love this post by Beeryblog!

That which I cannot study empirically I do not understand. If there is nothing for me to have observed and I have either not sought or not been persuaded with evidence, then my answer is I do not know.

My peace is not in knowing; it is in wanting to know. And my bliss is not in knowing; it is in trying to know.

This makes me a liberal. Evidence is not something I fight against, and answers are not something I require.

That which one cannot study empirically the conservative claims to understand anyway. Even when there is nothing to observe and the conservative has neither sought nor been presented with evidence, the conservative’s answer is I know.

The conservative finds peace only in knowing the answers to questions that she has not even asked. And once she knows, she will not be persuaded by evidence; hers is to defend her truth, not to find nature’s.
It reminds me of something Nezua said a while ago about the essence of white privilege.

Mi no…

Weeping Willows

I've always loved sad love songs. More than a testament to my love life, its about the power of music to connect with something very deep inside. Going all the way back to when I was a child, this was one of the first songs to touch that place.

Don't appropriate what isn't yours

About a month ago, I made a rare recommendation to read a diary over at Daily Kos. I'm going to do it again today. And its no surprise that this one comes from the same author - dmitcha - and is titled Please hear and understand: Posting to a blog is not giving your life for justice.

If you have not yet been shot at, had your life threatened, marched thousands, or even hundreds, towards a danger-filled doorway towards freedom, if you have not placed country before family, if you have not been imprisoned for your beliefs and the actions they evoked, if you have not devised workshops and trained thousands of followers on how to lay their own lives on the line at your word, if you do not each day place your head down while reflecting on the lives you are changing city-/state-/nation-/worldwide and simultaneously listening for rustling leaves, broken glass, screeching tires and guns being cocked, if you have not abandoned your home and career for a cause that is greater than yours, if …

"We have lost the South for a generation"

With those words reportedly spoken to Bill Moyers after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, LBJ showed that he actually underestimated the power of racism to affect our politics. If generations are counted in 20 year increments, we're now in the middle of the 3rd generation and the South is still lost.

I think of that today when I remember that Rick Perry was once a Democrat and switched parties in 1989. The post Civil Rights re-alignment of the South outlasted LJB's prediction.

This kind of historical analysis is important when we wonder why the GOP has become so extreme. There are probably many reasons for it - but there have been swings, as LBJ predicted, that have led us to this place. Perhaps the biggest reason is the exit from the Republican Party of the so-called "Eisenhower Republicans" in the northeast and African Americans all over the country after passage of the Civil Rights Act. That was matched by the exodus of southern whites from the Democratic Party …

Say something nice

Via The Dish

Obama administration had trained for NYC hurricane

I've been writing about the fact that it is the role of the Presidency to implement good government. That doesn't just happen. It takes foresight and planning. Like the kind we saw in the President's prescience about an Arab Spring.

Now we learn that this administration had also done a training exercise for a NYC hurricane.

If the possibility of escaping from New York seems like something only for Hollywood to you, you probably do not work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In May 2009, the Obama administration conducted a simulation exercise around the possibility of a Category 3 hurricane hitting New York City, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

The National Level Exercise, as it is known, was part of a coordinated effort by federal officials to prepare for a variety of disaster scenarios, including one very similar to what is likely to take place this weekend. President Obama himself participated in the exercise, one of the first of its k…

Understanding the end game

BooMan makes a great point at the end of his post about the Pew Research poll I wrote about yesterday.

People now are much more likely to tell pollsters that they want to see the president take a confrontational tone with Republicans rather than cooperate with them. That plays right into Obama's hands as he shifts to campaign mode.
I thought of this the other day when Trumka issued his big warning to President Obama about wanting to see a jobs proposal. Haven't we known for a couple of weeks that Obama is going to present a jobs proposal? When he does, Trumka thinks he's positioned himself to go back to his members and say, "See, look what I got for you." Except he didn't get a damn thing, we all know the President was going to do it anyway.

So get ready for it, when the President goes into campaign mode - as we all know he's going to do - there are plenty of people who will say "See, he's finally doing what we told him to do." We've see…

On Dreaming

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

- Marin Luther King, Jr., August 1963
I'd suspect that what most people in this country remembe…

Poutrager argues for a world where only extremists matter

If you ever want to read an article from the left that is the total antithesis of everything President Obama stands for, I'd suggest this one by David Atkins titled No Consequence for Extremism.

There's really nothing new that Atkins is arguing for. The poutragers are jealous that the Republican Party has become a tool for their extremists and want the same kind of power in the Democratic Party. But what is different about this article is that Atkins actually tries to lay out the thinking behind why this would be such a good idea. Its because he doesn't think our current system forces extremists to pay a price.

Well, one way of looking at it is that the GOP has figured out that there is no consequence for extremism in American politics. America has a de facto two-party system. And as much as both parties dream of building the electoral coalition that will turn the other into a "permanent minority", the truth is that in a binary system with sophisticated political …

Revving Up

Via Kevin Drum:



From the LA Times:

Taxpayers bailed out much of the U.S. auto industry. Now the carmakers might be what saves the nation's economy from falling back into recession.

After a massive restructuring and several high-profile bankruptcies, a leaner, more aggressive auto industry is making a comeback, hiring workers and ramping up manufacturing plants. From a trough two years ago, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Chrysler Group and other auto companies have added almost 90,000 manufacturing jobs, a 14% increase, according to federal employment data.
And in case you missed it, What IS Working brought us the story this week about Toyota and Ford collaborating to build hybrid trucks in order to meet the administrations new fuel efficiency requirements.

Steve Benen reminds us:

Two years ago, NBC News established a tough benchmark: “As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency.”

Interesting views about Obama in Pew's latest poll (updated)

Pew published a poll yesterday showing some of the same things we've seen in others recently. Namely, approval ratings for everyone in D.C. are down. As I watch that, I tend to write it off to the debt ceiling deal where, as I've suggested before, Republican intransigence tends to result in "a pox on both your houses." It's a hard message to overcome, but since Republicans are doing significantly worse than President Obama and Democrats, I'd suggest we did as well as can be expected in getting the story through the media's addiction to false equivalency.

But there are some other numbers about President Obama that struck me as significant - especially in the midst of all that.



The drop in the first two numbers is likely a reaction to what I described above. Yes, it becomes difficult to "get things done" when you're dealing with Republicans who oppose anything you propose...just because it's you who propose it.

But take a look at the rest…

Join the actual revolution in progress Brother West!

I see that Brother West is at it again with a column today in the New York Times titled Dr. King Weeps From His Grave.

My first thought is a reaction to the title. I find it appallingly disrespectful for those of us who are living to project how the deceased would react to events today. Dr. King lived in a particular time and space. He spoke to that moment. To assume that we know what and for whom he would weep today is the height of arrogance and demeaning to the legacy of the flesh and blood man.

Of course West cannot discuss Dr. King's legacy without talking about President Obama. And I will give him this, perhaps he learned a lesson from the last time he spoke up because he steers clear of talking about his own personal piques as well as an analysis of whether or not the President displays sufficient "blackness." I guess that's progress.

But he does spend some time on things like this:

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic leg…

Did you hear the one about "Democrats" predicting a third party candidacy in 2012

"Democratic" pollsters writing in Murdoch's Wall Street Journal:

The United States is in the midst of what we would both call a prerevolutionary moment, and there is widespread support for fundamental change in the system. An increasing number of Americans are now searching beyond the two parties for bold and effective leadership.
They're oh so balanced in combining this...

There are now rumblings from Donald Trump, a former contender for the Republican nomination, that he may run as an independent. There are certain to be others.
...with this:

These findings are consistent with what we learned from a series of in-depth focus groups conducted by Patrick Caddell with nearly 100 Americans across the country—of every economic class—who had voted for President Obama in 2008 and are at the moment undecided. These focus groups indicated that the American people are desperate for a leader who stands outside of the political establishment currently running Washington. A leader …

Where are the Pragmatic Conservatives and Independents?

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will. This is more than just a matter of "framing," although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required. It's a matter of actually having faith in the American people's ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.

- Barack Obama, September 2005
If you look over to the left of these words, you'll see a list of blogs representing some people who got fed up with the ideological rantings of the extreme left and are trying to have a different conversation about politics.

Today I'm wondering if there aren't Republicans who have gotten fed up with the mirror image of that extremism on the right and might be lookin…

With the Palinization of the GOP...our choices are clear

I blame John McCain.

We all know that in the last 3 years, the GOP has changed. As if Bush/Cheney weren't bad enough, we now have the entire Republican Party taken over by crazed tea partiers.

I think that was sparked by John McCain's nomination of Sarah Palin. It was a move of desperation. Prior to that time, McCain had been known as a "moderate Republican" and the right wing of the party had been captured by folks like Mike Huckabee, who was seen as a fringe candidate. Once McCain won the nomination, instead of moving to the center (he was already there), he needed to shore up his base. Thus the Palinization of the GOP began.

In the wake of the country's disillusionment with Bush/Cheney, the Republicans needed some fuel to stoke their weakening fires and so they seized on the Tea Party momentum...fanning the flames. Now they are beholden to the extremists.

It has changed the discourse coming from the Republicans. We are seeing the end of what David Roberts

Economics vs Demographics

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times...the re-election of President Obama will depend on how the economy is doing. While I'm sure there's a lot of truth in that, even Republican political consultant Mike Murphy knows its more complicated than that.

The race is close because next year both Obama and the Republican nominee are likely to be skating on wafer-thin ice. For while the weak economy is one huge force driving these numbers, there is a second force in play that could be equally unsettling. The 2012 election is shaping up as a battle between economics and demographics. The economy is threatening to end the President's political career. The demographics of a changing America might just re-elect him.
Actually, as I've written about here before, Ron Brownstein made this same point several months ago.

The next America is arriving ahead of schedule. And it could rattle assumptions about the coming presidential election.

Last week’s release of …

Bower-in-Chief

Remember back when it appeared as if President Obama had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia and the rightwing went nuts about it?



Well, I think those folks have been slacking off in their opportunities to dig up things to complain about when it comes to our President. Because ever since then, he's been demonstrating that he is - in fact - the "bower-in-chief." And I have photographic evidence!








He even bows sideways!








Why, he practically gets down on his knees in front of some folks.

Somebody dial up those wingers and tell them to get cracking'! Time's a-waistin' to get on this President for being willing to show this kind of deference.

;-)

Is no news good news?

I remember when I was a little girl, I used to want to know what would happen if there was ever a day that there was no "news." I'd ask adults and they would always disappoint me by answering that it would never happen.

I have no idea what drove that curiosity I had as a child. But the truth is that today seems like one of those days when there's no "news."

Oh, I know - there was a big earthquake on the East Coast yesterday that we're supposed to talk about. Here's my pictorial analysis of that one.



And events are still unfolding in Libya. I think BooMan might be taking it a little too far, but I also suppose he has a point in saying that we all might deserve an excessive celebration penalty.

Finally, you know its a slow news day when the lead story on The Today Show is about Hot Sauce Mom. I know those morning shows aren't known for their in-depth analysis of world events, but they at least usually try to open with something significant.

So …

You're All I Need to Get By

RIP Nick Ashford who, along with your lovely wife Valerie Simpson, wrote what I think is one of the most beautiful love songs ever.

DOJ investigates LA Sheriff for profiling

I've been documenting the work of the DOJ Civil Rights Division here - especially to combat those naysayers who want to claim that this administration has done nothing for African Americans (yes, looking at you Travis and Cornel).

Today comes this story from ColorLines.

The Department of Justice announced an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department on Friday. Deputies in the Antelope Valley, specifically in the historically white cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, have been repeatedly accused of unwarranted stops and searches of black and Latino residents of government subsidized housing, according to the Associated Press.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is accused of attempting to identify and harass residents of subsidized housing in the region through unjustified but routine traffic stops. Additionally, the Justice Department wants to determine whether warrantless searches of housing projects by LASD deputies violated th…

I'm Yours

As we celebrate his badassness...



...I thought I'd have a little fun with what I'm sure motivates it. ;-)

Working in the world as it is...for the world we want to see

The events of the last few days have reminded me of the speech President Obama gave at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. In it, he talked about the tension between our need to work in the world as it is and maintaining our vision of the world we want to see.

In the speech, President Obama demonstrated his understanding of the teachings of Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Here is the best summary of Niebuhr's thoughts on that tension that I have found.

Christians were obliged to work actively for progressive social causes and for the realization of Christian social ideals of justice and righteousness. But in doing so they had to abandon their illusions, not least in the way they thought about themselves. The pursuit of social righteousness would, he believed, inexorably involve them in acts of sin and imperfection. Not because the end justifies the means, but because that was simply the way of the world. Even the most surgical action creates collateral damage. But the Christian…

Obama's prescience about the Arab Spring

In looking for the origin of the quote below about leading from behind, I found this article by Ryan Lizza titled The Consequentialist. Its a great read - taking you through a lot of the White House process on dealing with the Middle East.

But I found one section of it fascinating. Its probably best if I just let Lizza tell the story.

On August 12, 2010, Obama sent a five-page memorandum called “Political Reform in the Middle East and North Africa” to Vice-President Joseph Biden, Clinton, Gates, Donilon, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the other senior members of his foreign-policy team. Though the Iranian regime had effectively crushed the Green Revolution, the country was still experiencing sporadic protests. Egypt would face crucial parliamentary elections in November. The memo began with a stark conclusion about trends in the region.

“Progress toward political reform and openness in the Middle East and North Africa lags behind other regions and has, in some cases, s…

"Leading from behind"

Back when President Obama first announced that the U.S. would be involved in the NATO-led intervention in Libya, one of his advisors called it leading from behind. Of course, that gave the wingers a case of the vapors.

But it struck me as a powerful statement - especially coming from a President who had a background in community organizing. That's because a couple of years ago the organization I run had started to work on expanding our mission from direct service to youth and families into doing some community organizing around the barriers that so often get in their way. For example, we held forums to highlight the over-representation of African American youth in the criminal justice system and the educational achievement gap that is so striking for African American boys.

One of the things I realized in this work was that I had to resist the kinds of approaches that delineated what needed to be done and ask people to join our bandwagon. That's what you do in public relations,…