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No commentary required 1/31/12

I was really busy today and didn't have much time to write anything. So to catch up - here's some things I found interesting.

If you haven't already read BooMan's article titled Sitting it Out Isn't an Option, go do so NOW.

I mean, even if the president wasn't the best, most effective, least ethically challenged president we've had in over half a century, he'd still be the only thing standing between us and an administration that would make Bush and Cheney look moderate. Did they not do enough damage in eight years to convince you that there's a difference between the two parties? Really? You need more proof?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is rolling!

In the first six months of its existence, the CFPB fielded 13,210 complaints from consumers via its phone line and online submission forms, as well as referrals from other regulators, the report said. Of those complaints, 9,307 were tied to credit cards, with another 2,326 pertaining to mortg…

I want one of these...

On the back:

Change Is
2009 - Present


1/29/2009
Equal Pay for Equal Work

3/30/2009
Saving the U.S. Auto Industry

5/22/2009
Credit Card Reform

10/28/2009
Hate Crimes Prevention Act

3/23/2010
Affordable Care Act

3/30/2010
Student Loan Reform

7/21/2010
Wall Street Reform

12/17/2010
Middle-Class Tax Cuts

12/22/2010
Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

7/29/2011
Raising Fuel Efficiency Standards

12/18/2011
Ending the War in Iraq
Available for $30 here.

99% Problems

Obama's populism - circa 2007

A meme has developed on the left that President Obama has only adopted a "populist" message in reaction to OWS. But take a look at a speech he gave (pdf) way back in 2007 to the Brookings Institution. Keep in mind, this was a full year before the economy crashed and more than 3 years before OWS.

The problem that we have is that social compact is starting to crumble, it's starting to erode. In our new economy there is no shortage of new wealth, but wages are not keeping pace; workers are more vulnerable to job loss and more worried about retirement. Those Americans fortunate enough to heave health care are paying more for it. Health care premiums have risen nearly 90 percent inthe last six years. Americans are facing deeper personal debt from filling up the gas tank to paying for college education. Everything seems to cost more, and this is not just happening by chance. It's not just something we can chalk up to temporary shocks; it's happening in part because of t…

Are we as polarized as we've been led to believe?

Remember these powerful words from Obama back in 2004?



It turns out he was more right than many people think or want to admit.

...John Chambers of the University of Florida in Gainesville, working with Leaf Van Boven of the University of Colorado at Boulder and his student Jake Westfall, analysed results from the American National Election Studies, in which voters have been surveyed in each presidential election year.

The researchers looked at people's views on 10 divisive topics, including government provision of health insurance and spending on defence. They also looked at the same people's estimates of typical Democrats' and Republicans' views on the same issues. The actual degree of polarisation according to party affiliation was fairly modest, but people thought it was much wider – especially those who described themselves as "strong" Republicans or Democrats. These patterns have been consistent since 1970.

"Polarisation is not as great as we think i…

No commentary required

Bits and pieces I found interesting.

Bill Maher wants to know "Who the F**k is Saul Alinsky?"



Actually, he also does a great job of demonstrating how Republicans are running against an Obama creation rather than the man himself. Great stuff!

How long would it take Mitt Romney to earn what you make in a year? Slate has a calculator to help you figure that out.

In the category of "Romney isn't the only one who'll say anything to get nominated," we have Gingrich, who, before he wanted to execute pot smokers actually supported medical marijuana.

And finally, for those who think President Obama should get in touch with his inner "gangsta," look at what happens when he does ;-)

When pre-emptive poutrage proves you wrong...again

This is a cycle many of us have been noticing for a long time. Many times the poutrage engaged by President Obama's critics on the left is pre-emptive. In other words, they assume something is going to happen, gin up the Obama bashing, and then when it turns out not to be the case, either ignore it or take credit for the turnaround that happened only in their minds.

Case in point...Matt Taibbi's column on the foreclosure fraud settlement. First of all lets stipulate that no one has been more critical of Obama on the financial crisis than Taibbi. But I'll at least give him props for admitting he was wrong about the foreclosure settlement.

So there was big news yesterday on the foreclosure settlement front. We still have to wait and see what the final deal looks like, but there are reports out that the long-awaited settlement is a far, far better deal for the public than expected.
The immediate question that comes to mind is "its better than WHO expected, Matt?"

A…

Power

I've never mentioned the picture up above, but it is from a place that I've visited often - Thunder Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This particular beach is right at the tip of the Baja Peninsula where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet.

I don't know if I'm unique in this, but waves like that have always stirred something primordial in me...I feel it in my gut. I'm moved by their beauty, awed by their power, and even have nightmares at times about their potential for destruction.

And so a video like this one absolutely mesmerizes me.



Leo Soderman, captured something similar in still photography.



His comment about it expresses my thoughts/feelings perfectly.

It shows the power of the waves out there, and the power of the surfer shredding them. And they are in harmony, not one against the other, but both creating a flow and a motion.
Mother nature is a wonderful teacher. There are some lessons to be learned in all of that. I think I'll just leave it to eac…

President Barack Hussein Obama: a threat or an opportunity

The genius of pairing these two seminal moments from the last week - both of which involved President Obama interacting with white female politicians from Arizona - is not mine to claim. It belongs to Brittney Cooper at The Crunk Feminist Collective. Well done Brittney!!!

But I think these two moments perfectly capture the tension that is beneath much of our political discourse today - both the threat that some people seem to wallow in (Brewer) and the opportunity that is there for the taking (Giffords). Can our country weather what Tim Wise calls "the perfect storm of white anxiety" facing us today and embodied by our first African American President?



Now, while you think about that...go read Cooper's whole article. She'll break down what that challenge means and what Gov. Brewer demonstrated about the fault lines. Here's a taste:

White privilege conditions white people not to see white rage. However, it makes them hyper-aware of Black threat. Newt Gingrich i…

Schneiderman breaks it down on Maddow's show

For the last few days I've been following the story about President Obama's announcement in his SOTU on a new unit to tackle the mortgage issues that led to the 2008 economic collapse. You can read what I've come up with here and here.

But last night NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman went on Rachel Maddow's show and BROKE IT DOWN. If you want to really understand what's going on here, take a few minutes to listen. (Oh, and you've also got to love the props Rachel gives to Steve Benen at the beginning of the clip.)

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Harris-Perry warns us about celebrating Republican disarray

In their daily round-up of articles today, Real Clear Politics has retitled Sarah Palin's latest Facebook article "It's Now the GOP Establishment vs the Tea Party." In some ways that pretty well sums things up. As I've been saying all along, there is a battle at hand for the Republican Party. And rather than calming down, it seems to be heating up. Some folks are already writing Newt's obituary. But when Palin and Rush Limbaugh weigh in, you can bet the fires are still burning.

As I've written about before, its hard to avoid celebrating the shadenfreude of the moment. But this week, Melissa Harris-Perry sounded a warning about that.

A challenge to the status quo could be a good thing, of course. It is what animates both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement. And as a media observer, I find it exciting to watch the Republicans behaving so erratically. But I am more than a little concerned that no one seems to be steering the GOP ship anymore. Democratic loy…

Mayor Cory Booker on minority rights

People who read here regularly know that I'm a big fan of Newark Mayor Cory Booker. The video below is a wonderful demonstration of why.

On Wednesday, Booker held a press conference to talk about public safety achievements in the City over the past year. One reporter went off topic and asked him what he thought about Gov. Christie's proposal for a New Jersey referendum of gay marriage.

Booker gave a passioned and thoughtful statement about why minority rights should NEVER be subject to majority rule. Of course this applies to the subject of gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular. But with the racist/sexist attacks we've seen lately from some extremists on the right - its a powerful reminder for us on those issues as well.

Desperado

If someone asked me to name my favorite song of all time I'd have real trouble choosing. The one thing I'm certain of is that this one would be in contention.

Tonight, it strikes me as a powerful lament to some of our conservative brothers and sisters.


Eagles Desperadoby avajra

Holder and Schneiderman provide more details on mortgage fraud task force

The new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group that President Obama announced in his State of the Union speech held a press conference today prior to its first meeting. You can read Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks here.

One of the assumptions naysayers threw out initially without any facts was that the unit would not be adequately staffed or funded. AG Holder addressed that issue today:

I am pleased to report that this Working Group has considerable Department resources behind it as it builds on activities that have been underway through the broader Task Force. Currently, 15 attorneys, investigators, and analysts – here at Main Justice and throughout our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices – are supporting the investigative efforts that this Working Group will be focusing on going forward. And the FBI has assigned 10 agents and analysts to work with the group immediately. In the coming weeks, another 30 attorneys, investigators, and support staff from U.S. Attorneys’ Of…

I just LOVE it when Romney defends Obamacare!

Here's what Romney said in last night's debate:

[F]or the 8 percent of people who didn't have insurance, we said to them, if you can afford insurance, buy it yourself, any one of the plans out there, you can choose any plan. There's no government plan. And if you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care. And that was the conclusion that we reached.
Oops, I guess he was actually talking about Romneycare. Same thing.

As Adam Serwer says:

All of this can be said about Obamacare. It doesn't "take over" the health care system, it regulates a health insurance market in which private companies compete. Individuals are compelled to b…

President Obama's latest move on mortgage fraud...emoprog heads explode (updated)

During his State of the Union speech, President Obama said this:

And tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.
Just prior to the speech, Sam Stein published this exclusive about that unit that struck me as a bombshell.

During his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce the creation of a special unit to investigate misconduct and illegalities that contributed to both the financial collapse and the mortgage crisis.

The office, part of a new Unit on Mortgage Origination and Securitization Abuses, will be chaired by Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, according to a White House official…

Traveling Team

After last night's State of the Union speech, today President Obama took it on the road with stops in Iowa and Arizona.

Looks like he's taking the traveling team with him.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, President Barack Obama’s political strategist David Plouffe and Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau

We asked the President what he thought about their performance.

Smartypants has a sad :-(

Lately I've developed a pattern. I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, make some coffee, and start perusing the internet for stories that catch my interest. Anything before 7:00 am (my local time) is usually unproductive because Steven Benen posts his first piece of the day at the Washington Monthly about that time. And NO ONE on the internet has a better nose for what's important to pragmatic progressives than Steve. As the day wears on, its also true that no one is as prolific as Steve - who usually posts over a dozen articles a day.

So I couldn't help but be sad yesterday when Steve announced he's leaving his gig with the Washington Monthly. And now we see his last headline there: And that's a wrap.

I tend not to talk too much about myself on the blog, but I hope readers will indulge me for a moment. I ran my own site from 2003 to 2008, and dreamed that I’d get picked up by a news outlet I enjoy and respect, so I could get paid to do what I love. The Washing…

When he sets his mind to something...

President Obama continues to put a lie to those on the right who try to call him an "appeaser" and those on the left who call him "weak." He has a special kind of steely determination, courage and strength when he sets his mind to something. I'd suspect that - were they able to be honest - those who've gone head-to-head with him (and survived) would tell you that "you don't mess with this guy."

We see that again this morning with the Navy Seal Team rescue of hostages from Somali pirates. Remember, Somali rescue operations have a reputation for not going so well, ie "Blackhawk Down".

American commandos raced into Somalia on Wednesday morning and rescued two aid workers, including an American woman, after a shootout with Somali pirates who had been holding them captive for months.

The American soldiers swooped in by helicopter, killed nine pirates and captured several others, before spiriting away the hostages, who were not harmed, West…

"This nation is great because we built it together"

Those of us who've been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn't matter if you're black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you're marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you're in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn't matter. Just like it didn't matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates-- a man who was George Bush's defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One …

Newt and debate audiences

One of the themes that surfaced early on in the Republican debates was the role of the audience. Who can forget when they cheered Texas executions, or yelled "let him die" when moderators asked about the role of government in treating patients without health insurance, or booed a gay active duty soldier, or gave a standing ovation to racist dog whistles?

That's why I think the most astute commentary on Monday night's debate came from Jonathan Bernstein.

Several people have pointed out that the fantasy fueling Newt’s campaign — that the trick to winning the general election is to destroy President Obama in the fall debates — is nonsense, because general election debates don’t really work like that. But what Monday demonstrated..., is that Newt’s reputation as a brilliant debater is actually a fraud. What Newt has done well isn’t debating the other candidates; what he’s done well is attacking the moderators, and it works especially well when there’s a partisan Republica…

We learned 2 things last night

First of all, Romney released his tax returns for 2010 and we learned that he made $21.7 million. I think a more helpful way of grasping a number that big is to say that he made just shy of $60,000 a day 7 days a week. And every penny came from capital gains, dividends and interest on investments. Not bad for a days "work," huh?

Let me remind you, its not that Mitt's net worth is almost $22 million. You'd have to multiply that number by a little over 10 to get there. Its that he pocketed almost $22 million in 2010 during a year when the rest of the country was still reeling from the great recession.

That folks, is how income inequality has been created in this country...if you have money, you can make money - LOTS OF IT!

But here's the second thing we learned: Under Gingrich's tax plan, Romney would pay no taxes...as in zero - nada.

Even Mitt seemed a little taken aback by that in the debate last night.

So the idea that Mitt pays a lower tax rate (14%) tha…

Polar Opposites

As I read David Frum's take-down of Newt Gingrich today, what struck me is that there couldn't be two people more polar opposite one another than President Obama and Newt Gingrich.

I had a little fun last night with the contrast in how these two men have approached marriage and family. But the truth is - they have opposite histories when it comes to how they've lived their private lives.

But here's what struck me about what Frum had to say.

To drive home the supposed values separation between the Kerry ticket and the nation, Gingrich urged the Bush ticket to focus attacks on a series of issues that highlighted that supposed 4:1 values divide, including:

"1. A work requirement for welfare: 87% of Americans say yes, 5% no. John Kerry and the Senate Democrats have blocked the bill for three years.

2. Government should help faith-based initiatives help the poor: 72% of Americans agree, 26% disagree; Kerry is with the 26%.

3. U.S. interests are more important than int…

South Carolina takeaway of the day!

Over at Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende lists 3 takeaways from the South Carolina primary.

I must admit to a case of the giggles when I got to this one:

And remember, this is still in many ways the electorate that selected Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Linda McMahon as its standard-bearers -- in very blue states with relatively moderate GOP electorates, no less.

This vote was an utter repudiation of Romney, and it absolutely will be repeated in state after state if something doesn’t change the basic dynamic of the race.
Notice anything else those three candidates had in common Sean? THEY ALL LOST.

But the point he's making is something I haven't heard any other Republican say...that what happened in SC might not be limited to southern states. He's suggesting that Republicans in Delaware, New York and Connecticut might be just as crazy.

Oh lawd...how can that NOT be the takeaway of the day!

Republicans blowing what little they had

Conventional wisdom leading up to the 2012 election suggested 2 things:

1. Since an incumbent is running for re-election, this will likely be a referendum on President Obama rather than a choice between a Democrat and a Republican.

2. President Obama's re-election will hinge on how well the economy is doing.

Lately, the Republicans are doing everything they possibly can to prove that conventional wisdom wrong.

Their desire to make this election a fight has led them to assume that the best candidate is the one who demonstrates the most contrast with President Obama. We've seen several of the contenders make that point in debates. That's one of the many reasons they don't tend to trust Romney - they're fearful that he won't provide enough of a contrast with Obama.

And so we see both Romney and Gingrich adopting language that embraces the choice. Gingrich is talking about this election being the most important of our lifetimes and Romney is suggesting that this is…

Real Family Values

Let's Stay Together in 2012

For those of you, like me, who can't get enough of this.



Thanks Chipsticks!

Schadenfreude revisited

Yesterday I suggested that I'd limit myself to one day of schadenfreude. But honestly, with the Republicans these days, what's a girl supposed to do? Seriously, I just can't help myself ;-)

So once again, I'll leap in and enjoy Jennifer Rubin's angst. Today she wrote a plea to the Republican leaders who are either sitting this one out or haven't had the nerve to endorse anyone.

It seems, gentlemen, it’s time to get off your . . . er . . . time to get off the bench and into the game. It is time to make the case for winning conservatism — a conservatism attractive to centrist voters that can be translated into a reform agenda. If conservatism becomes a movement of anti-media bashing and hyperbolic rhetoric, it will cease to be a force in American politics. And if it is led by an egomaniac whose personal advancement takes precedence over any principle, the GOP will be (correctly) mocked.

So how about it? One of you can run yourself. Or you can instead collectively…

Republicans want a fight! (updated)

I'd suggest that anyone pontificating as if they know what's going to happen in this Republican presidential primary is full of hot air. That's especially true of those that mindlessly compare this race to what has happened in past primaries. This is something new that we haven't seen before. And while that newness is partially about things like the Super Pacs of Citizens United vs the grassroots of new media, its even bigger than that.

To understand, I went traveling around conservative sites this morning - that's where you get the real story of how this is playing. No one nailed it better than Erick Erickson at Red State.

Newt Gingrich’s rise has a lot to do with Newt Gingrich’s debate performance. But it has just as much to do with a party base in revolt against its thought and party leaders in Washington, DC. The base is revolting because they swept the GOP back into relevance in Washington just under two years ago and they have been thanked with contempt ever s…

Schadenfreude Rox!

Today I'm thinking about how awful I felt watching the results of the 2010 midterm elections. But it got worse. In the ensuing days we had to watch Republicans think they had captured the high ground with American voters and lecture all of us about it.

Yeah, those were ugly days.

So today I'm going to take a moment - as South Carolinians go to the polls - and revel in a little schadenfreude.

A malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.
I know its not "nice" to be malicious. But surely it won't hurt for just a day ;-)

After all, check out some of this news:

From the wingers at Powerline:

It is painful to contemplate the extent of the GOP wipeout that would follow a Gingrich nomination. Would Newt carry a state? Wyoming, maybe? South Carolina? The Republican Party could kiss its hopes of retaking the Senate goodbye, and likely would lose control over the House...
For once, they're probably right. As BooMan says, "People hate Newt."

POTUS and Father

Over the last few decades, women have been struggling with balancing the various roles in our lives as a result of the options presented to us. Can we be good mothers as well as successful professionals is how it often plays out.

But while we've been sorting that out - there's also been increasing awareness about the important role fathers play in the lives of their children. I know that when I was growing up, just as women were only expected to be housewives and mothers, men were only expected to "bring home the bacon." The second part of that equation is changing as well. The men I admire most are those who are stepping up to the plate on that one.

That's the backdrop I was thinking about as I read the very interesting interview Fareed Zakaria had with President Obama on foreign policy.

As they were talking about the President's relationship with foreign leaders, Zakaria brought up this idea that people think he's cool and aloof, not just in terms of …

What Obama tapped in to last night

I suspect that I'm not the only one who went on a trip down memory lane about Al Green today after President Obama's performance last night.

As I did so, I wondered if some of the young ones have any idea of the soul he tapped into for us old fogies.

If not, here's a taste of that...and a reminder for the rest of us.





Finally, watch Rev. Al take a BeeGees bubble-gum song and transform it with soul.

The Republican id surges (updated)

Just when I was finally getting ready to join the inevitable Romney bandwagon, the Republican id resurfaces with a come-back.



Certainly the attacks on Romney's vulture capitalism are having an effect. But responding to the opening of last night's debate, Steve Benen nails the real reason this is happening.

Over the course of just three minutes, we learned exactly why Gingrich is a competitive presidential candidate: he understands the Republican id perfectly.

The right really does believe they’re victims.
But its even more than that. They don't just believe they're victims, they want blood...as Steve M. illustrates.


...it's basically the way Republican voters feel right now (and pretty much all the time), which is why Newt Gingrich is doing so well, and Mitt Romney isn't.
Karl Rove is pulling out all the stops to go after Gingrich in SC, just like he did when he went after McCain in 2000. But this time, after Republicans spent so much energy pandering to their ex…

And they wonder why more African Americans aren't involved in OWS?

From everything I've seen on blogs and twitter...last night was HUGE!



Not only did President Obama make the heart of every woman with even a touch of soul swoon, he did so while being the very first president to ever visit Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater at a fundraiser hosted by Spike Lee (perhaps as legendary as an actual person gets these days).

Enter OWS.



Protesters broadcast their anger with signs and jeers, including Bob Nash, who came to protest from Cold Spring Harbor with a sign criticizing Obama for his relationship with Wall Street.

“Wall Street has been bailed out and the American people have been sold out because of Obama,” he said.

Others sang, “Obama is a Nazi.”
I have two words for you folks...disgusting bullshit! I won't dignify your actions with anything further.

But if you need any more evidence that this so-called "movement" has descended into the dustbin of irrelevance with their partners in the tea party - there you have it.

A seat in the circle: President Obama and First Nations People

I am writing this with one goal in mind: to entice anyone who stops by here to go read a diary written by Aji at Daily Kos about what having a Democratic administration has meant for Native Americans.

We've all heard a lot of back-and-forth about whether or not President Obama has done enough for African Americans or Latinos in this country. But when it comes to our invisible Native brothers and sisters, the topic almost never even comes up. Here's how Aji introduces it in reference to my title and the picture above.

[Yes, I know the usual metaphor is "a seat at the table." I also know that what you do, in fact, see in the above photo is a table. But in our traditions, we tend to sit in circles for a meeting of any import, whether political or ceremonial, and whether or not a table is present - and under most administrations, even the circle has been effectively denied us.]

The photo you see was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza on December 15, 2010. It&…

Its the sociopathy, stupid

It seems like someone (I'm looking at you Karl Rove) wants to get all the dirt about Gingich's "creative" ideas about marriage into the conversation. And wife #2 seems to be more than happy to provide an assist (who can blame her?)

But the question becomes whether or not the voters of South Carolina care, given that Newt is doing such a good job of feeding them the red meat they crave. TPM reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro is on the ground in Beaufort, SC reporting that...not so much.

Voters here in coastal South Carolina don’t seem too bothered with the salacious “bombshell” stories Marianne Gingrich is expected to tell on Nightline on Thursday night. They may not all vote for Newt Gingrich, but they all agree that voters here won’t be moved by stories of a 68 year-old former House Speaker’s sex life.
Here's what one woman - who identified herself as an "evangelical" - told him.

“I’m a Christian and I believe that that’s not my job, to judge someone on thei…

THIS is what I love about Michelle Obama

The article in More is about the First Lady's mentoring program where she matches up 20 local high school girls from the "middle" (neither honor roll nor high-risk kids) with senior leaders in President Obama's administration. This is how she introduces herself to those 20 girls.

“They call me FLOTUS, for first lady of the United States,” she explains, noting that the president’s internal White House acronym is POTUS. “And there are many times when FLOTUS and POTUS feel like characters.” There have even been times, she says, when she’s craned her own neck to see which celebrity might be causing all the excitement. “And it’s me. Oh, man, it’s FLOTUS. FLOTUS is here. No one told me FLOTUS was coming.”...

“But sometimes,” Obama tells her class of mentees, “I just want to be Michelle. So you guys have to start slowly seeing me as Michelle, all right?”
Here is what she hopes the girls get out of the program.

Confidence, and the idea of "paying it forward" is what …

Where Obama is to the left of his progressive critics

Various pundits and bloggers are constantly trying to define where President Obama fits on our outdated political spectrum. Most village pundits place him in a center/left category, while extremists on the left tend to call him an Eisenhower Republican and those on the right say he's a socialist.

I personally don't waste my time with any of these labels because first and foremost I believe President Obama is a pragmatist. He's adapted himself to the make-up of the Congress he has to deal with and seems to approach every situation with two basic questions: (1) What will work, and (2) What can actually get done.

But when we look at specific policies, there are a few areas where he's actually out-flanked most of his critics on the left. Its been interesting to watch that happen and go completely unnoticed. Usually that's because his critics made an early judgement of who he is (Oh-No's, he nominated Geithner!) and then literally failed to see anything that contra…

Here's your choice

It looks like the primary results we'll see in South Carolina this week will confirm that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president this year. Assuming that is true, we'll have a stark choice for American voters between the competing visions he and President Obama have for our country.

In case you haven't noticed, Romney is developing a theme for his candidacy that describes this election as a battle for the "soul of America." So lets look at what he means by that.

Romney asserts that President Obama wants to “fundamentally transform America,” turning the country “into a European-style entitlement society.” In fact, Romney and his Republican presidential rivals have a far more radical transformation in mind. They envision a dramatically shrunken federal government and a dangerously unraveled social safety net...

Consider Romney’s answer to a question at the last debate about the safety net in an age of austerity:

“Well, what we don’t need is to have…