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Showing posts from May, 2012

PAC+ on Romney: "We intend to sink him"

Here is an ad sponsored by  PAC+  that will be airing all over Arizona in both English and Spanish. Please click on the link up above and learn more about PAC+. Here's what staffer Kirk Clay says about them in an article titled  The New Majority is the future, and the future has arrived. Today, PAC+, a new national network of leaders focused on democratizing money and politics to give voice to America’s New Majority, will launch a television advertising campaign targeted at the Latino electorate. This is PAC+’s first ad in Arizona, the center of the right wing’s attack on Latinos, and the fastest growing sector of the New American Majority. The ad will be the first Latino-focused ad by an independent group this cycle... “Romney has acknowledged that ‘he’s sunk’ if he can’t make inroads with Latinos. We intend to sink him, and to get the rest of the progressive community to join us,” said Steve Phillips, Chairman of PAC+... “PAC+ will not allow Romney’s history of and co

Dolores Huerta: Yes She Did!

You may have heard that this week President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom to  Dolores Huerta.  Many of us are familiar with the name and legacy of Cesar Chavez. But often we are not aware that Ms. Huerta was his partner from day one in founding the United Farm Workers of America. Please take a few minutes to watch this PBS interview with her as she reflects briefly on her life and work...the original "wise Latina." Conservatives, in yet another move that demonstrates their determination to reject the Hispanic community, are now using this American icon of civil rights history to  try to smear President Obama. President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to Dolores Huerta, an 82-year-old labor activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers union. Huerta is also an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. As I look around the internet, this story is showing up on almost all of their s

When the dog catches the car

In about a month we're going to hear what the Supreme Court says about Obamacare. This has posed an interesting dilemma for Republicans who have spent the last few years trashing the reform and voting more than once to repeal the whole thing. If they get what they want and its ruled unconstitutional...then what? The "replace" part of repeal and replace comes to bear and that puts them in the position of having to actually govern rather than simply demagogue the issue. They're not very good at that. Over the last few weeks we've seen some Republicans come out in favor of the most popular parts of Obamacare - the ban on denials for pre-existing conditions, young people up to 26 covered by their parent's insurance and the closing of the doughnut-hole in Medicare prescription coverage. Even the seriously disturbed Rep. Allen West  says he would favor continuing those reforms. And as  TPM reports,  that seems to be the strategy Republicans are coalescing around

The killing of al-Awlaki

On the same day that the NYT published the article  I wrote about in my last post  about President Obama's conduct of the war against Al Qaeda,  Newsweek published an excerpt  from a book by Daniel Klaidman titled  Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency. I found this one provided even more history, context and detail about the drone strikes against Al Qaeda targets. So if you're interested in learning more about that issue, I highly recommend reading the whole thing. But one section really stood out to me. In it, Klaidman covers the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki - the one that has created the most controversy amongst liberals.  I'm going to quote quite a bit of the story because this is the most detail I've seen about it anywhere. In Barack Obama’s mind, Anwar al-Awlaki was threat No. 1. The Yemen-based leader of AQAP [Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula] had grown up in the United States, spoke fluent American-accented English, and had a charis

President Obama as Counter-Puncher (updated)

In the course of a week, we've now been privy to two behind-the-scenes looks at President Obama. The first  one focused on the campaign  and now we see one about his leadership on the war against Al Qaeda.  What some people will say about these exposes is that they have been planted by the Obama administration. I'll agree. You don't get access to people like Plouffe, Axelrod, Messina, Brennan and Holder without a planned strategy. But I still highly recommend that you read both articles in their entirety because they provide very useful information about the man who is our President. There's no way to easily summarize what you'll learn from reading these articles. But one thing did stand out to me - what moves President Obama. Each article describes a pivotal moment where the President's position and strategy either deepened or altered. Here's the example from the first one about the campaign. Even before heading away on holiday, Obama had arrived at a

Greenwald's authoritarian mind

After I mentioned  Glenn Greenwald  in my last post, I decided to head over to Salon and check out what he's writing about this Memorial Day weekend. In his piece from yesterday, he takes on the task of telling us all about  the authoritarian mind. What I found fascinating is that in the article, Greenwald demonstrates EXACTLY what an authoritarian does with information...he feeds you only what he wants you to hear. Exhibit A is Greenwald relaying the interview Jake Tapper did with Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta yesterday morning. Here is the part he highlighted lifted directly from his article. TAPPER : President Obama recently said that — recently told John Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser at the White House that he wanted a little bit more transparency when it comes to drones, which are the – is one of the approaches that you’re alluding to in Yemen. And “The Times of London” reported last week that the civilian casualties in Yemen as a result of drone strikes have,

Tortured Logic

I've often wished that people on the left like Glenn Greenwald and Conor Friedersdorf who criticize President Obama for his handling of the war against al Qaeda, would take a step more deeply into a discussion about the ethics of war. They seem to see clear lines of distinction where I see a morass of gray. I've always preferred reading  Adam Serwer's  thoughts about these kinds of things. Even though I don't always agree with him, he doesn't seem to approach it all with the surety felt by those who are obviously suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS). He recently took that step deeper into the ethics question and clearly demonstrates the problems we will inevitably find when the conversation turns to trying to link concepts like "morality" and "war." There's a really important moral and legal distinction to be made between torture, which is always illegal and always wrong, and killing, which can occasionally be both justified an

Soldiers and War

The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such. - President Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech,   12/10/09

Breaking: NYT Finds One Zealous Romney Supporter

I couldn't help but find  this story in the NYT fascinating . For the past year, Mr. Wilson has devoted himself with the single-mindedness of a college-age groupie to following Mr. Romney around the country in decidedly conspicuous style: driving a pickup truck festooned with 27 giant Romney for President posters. (The largest are the size of a refrigerator.) Its not just that Mr. Wilson looks so lonely out there by himself being the one and only "zealous" Romney supporter. Its what motivates him. Is it the candidates compelling vision, personality and/or leadership? No. He liked what Mr. Romney had to say about free enterprise and federal regulation, and he could never muster much interest in Newt Gingrich (“his time has passed”) or Rick Santorum (“a little whiny”). But more than anything, he hated what he believed Mr. Obama stood for : big government run amok. I think that pretty well sums up what this presidential race is about for Republicans. Meh...I sorta like

Racism: Coming soon to a theater near you

While the Rickett's plan to dredge up the Rev. Wright controversy during the Democratic Convention seems to have been dropped, we  just learned  that he's also bank-rolling a movie based on Dinesh D'Souza's book The Roots of Obama's Rage, which will be coming to a theater near you next month. You can see from the trailer that the point of all this is to suggest that Obama has a dream from his anti-colonialist Kenyan father (complete with a scene of an African American family coming to blows over a game of Monopoly) whereas the rest of "America has a dream from OUR  founding fathers." And if that isn't enough "othering" for you, take a look at  D'Souza's speech at CPAC this year  introducing the film. He not only leads off by saying that "Obama is clearly the most unknown guy to enter the Oval Office in American history," and "three years later he remains a mystery," he trots out every dog whistle  fog horn w

Three Years Ago Today: A Wise Latina to the Supreme Court

Biden's Memorial Day Message: It gets better

Sometimes I think that our Vice President is incapable of telling anything but the truth. It gets him in trouble sometimes. At other times - its breathtakingly profound.

Mayors for Obama

I found this video interesting for several reasons. Of course one of them is because of the introduction by the  great Mayor of Minneapolis - RT Rybak , who had the wisdom to be one of the first elected officials in the country to endorse our President. Secondly, it has been our Mayors all over the country (but especially in our big urban areas) who have felt the direct heat of our economic problems. These are the men and women on the front line of hearing from citizens about the impact of job losses (both public and private) in their communities. So I appreciated hearing from them about what the Obama administration has meant in their communities. And finally, how can you help but notice what our "farm team" looks like? The diversity of the Democratic Party on the front lines speaks very well to the future of our party - and our country.

Secretary Geithner on risk and heat

I've always been pretty curious about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. No one in the Obama administration walked into a tougher job and next to Attorney General Eric Holder, none has been so reviled. When conversing with the poutragers, it often seemed as though they thought all they had to do was say his name and the failings of the administration would be obvious. I did my best to try to understand some of the advice Secretary Geithner gave the President and the choices that were available to him. The truth is - I think he's done a good job with the hand he was dealt. And yet even amongst the President's supporters, you rarely hear a positive word about him. That's why I was intrigued when I read the commencement address he recently gave at his alma mater,  the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies . It gave me a little insight into the person behind the policies. Here are some excerpts you might find interesting.

The political meta story that is being missed

We can add a new name to the list of conservatives who have parted ways with the wingnut takeover of the Republican Party. The list already includes former Republican administration officials  David Frum  and  Bruce Bartlett;  former Republican Congressional staffer  Mike Lofgren;  and former legislators like  Chuck Hagel . The latest entry to the list is  Michael Fumento  who wrote a scathing critique in Salon about the extremist's takeover of the current conservative agenda. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger. One of my reactions when I read about this kind of thing is to wonder whether or not these people  represent many other conservatives who are equally disgusted with the current nonsense coming from their side of the political spectrum. Given what we saw happen to  Senator Lugar  recently, I doubt we'll

Obama's Consistency

One of the things I recognized early on about President Obama is how consistent he's been in his approach to conflict. I first noticed this just after his election when I did some looking into his background - specifically  his time as President of the Harvard Law Review.  Quotes like this sound very familiar to how he has approached his current job. Beyond his appearance, what set him apart was his approach to argument, the lifeblood of the law school and the constant occupation of the young lawyers-in-training. While other students were determined to prove the merits of their beliefs through logic and determination, Obama preferred to listen, seek others' views, and find a middle way. Or how about this one. ...his first and foremost goal, it always seemed to me, was to put out a first-rate publication. And he was not going to let politics or ideology get in the way of doing that. What I learned is - of course - that he's always been a pragmatist who is open to ideas

Sing It Loud

I, Too I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed-- I, too, am America.  - Langston Hughes This week one of my favorite writers,  Leonard Pitts,  reflected on that poem as he talked about three stories: the plan floated by a Romney Super PAC to revive the Jeremiah Wright story, the resurgence of birthirism in Arizona, and the news from the Census Bureau that - for the first time in the US - non-white babies outnumber white ones. After all, President Martinez lies in an incubator even as we speak. President Chen has begun to toddle. President Muhammad is being toilet trained. And this idea that some of us are real Americans and some of us are Others is thereby doomed. It will pro

Watching change happen

I want to veer from my usual practice and write something personal today. That's because yesterday was one of the proudest moments of my professional career. First a little background. I am the executive director of a small nonprofit where we work with youth who are starting to get in trouble. That means connecting with and re-directing youth who are getting suspended from school, have been arrested for the first time, are having a family crisis or are developing delinquency patterns before they are 10 years old. Focusing early on these kinds of behaviors means that our typical clients are young teens and working in an urban environment means that they're primarily African American. Given our mission, the majority of them are boys. All of this also means that our staff is predominantly African American and male. So the testosterone can run high at times. I've found myself occasionally mentoring some of our young male staff about when they've crossed the line in at

Moodys predicts an Obama romp

First came this article from  Bloomberg. From extra shifts at auto and steel plants in Ohio to office buildings rising in Northern Virginia, the geography of the U.S. economic rebound is providing an edge to President  Barack Obama ’s re-election. The unemployment rates in a majority of the 2012 battleground states are lower than the national average as those economies improve. Coupled with the growth of adult minority populations in those states, the trends create a higher bar for presumed Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his quest to unseat Obama. Looking at the electoral college, they break it down this way. Nine states switched from supporting Republican President  George W. Bush  in 2004 to Democrat Obama in 2008. Leaving out  Indiana , which both sides say is trending toward its Republican tradition, the remaining eight are again shaping up as the central election battleground. Those eight states --  Colorado ,  Florida ,  Iowa ,  Nevada ,  New Mexico

GOP: When the truth hurts...lie

I often try to imagine how this presidential race looks to those who don't follow every detail about it every day. Doing so helps me imagine what kinds of over-arching messages are the key to winning. One of the things the GOP has been pretty successful at doing is getting a false message out there that President Obama is a typical tax-and-spend liberal. And that its his policies that are the cause of our federal deficits. That kind of message resonates because its the kind of narrative people have grown to accept about Democrats for a long time. It becomes hard to break through what has long been accepted as conventional wisdom. But its all a lie. Trouble is, I don't think simply saying so is enough. When the truth goes against people's accepted narrative, they tend to dismiss it. And data simply bores them. Perhaps one of the ways to get the truth out there is via visuals. Here are a couple that make the case pretty powerfully. When it comes to spending, Marke

What do we need to know about Cory Booker?

I've been pleased to hear that as some people deal with their frustrations about what Mayor Cory Booker said on MTP over the weekend, they're following up by looking into his past to learn more about him. Several years ago - and under much more positive circumstances - I did the same thing. I thought it might be helpful for me to share some of what I learned. As far as I can remember, the first time I really paid much attention to Booker is after watching this interview with him in 2008. What struck me was how similar he sounded to the young black professionals I work with every day. I noted a desire to honor the civil rights leaders of the past, but to recognize that todays leaders need to be prepared to develop their own responses to the challenges we face. This "roll up your sleeves and get to work" attitude is something I hear very often from the younger generation. What I found when looking more closely at Booker was that understanding who he is needs t

Why Bain Matters

That's a quote from President Obama's press conference this afternoon when he was asked about the campaign ads on Romney's experience at Bain. This morning  Ezra Klein  made a pretty similar point. Romney says he was in the “job creation” business. He wasn’t. He was in the wealth creation business, and when that meant firing people, that’s what he did — , and he profited handsomely from it. On the other hand, many of the companies that Romney closed needed to be closed. It was better for them to die quickly, and for the money to go to productive uses in the economy, than for them to decline slowly. The Obama administration has presided over layoffs in the federal government, not to mention the auto industry, and it would surely argue some of them were necessary. At its best, private equity acts as an accelerant of needed creative destruction. At its worst, it’s a particularly heartless form of vulture capitalism that kills companies that don’t need to be killed in

Good News Monday

If you'd like to start your week off on a positive note, here are some stories that might do just that. First of all, apparently  U.S. manufacturing is coming home. Two-thirds of big US manufacturers have moved factories in the past two years, with the most popular destination being the US, according to a survey being released on Monday by  Accenture , the consultants. Secondly, is Tennessee really in play now? President Barack Obama has pulled into a virtual tie with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in traditionally conservative Tennessee, according to a new Vanderbilt University poll... Bill Freeman, a top fundraiser for Obama in Tennessee, said the overall poll result reflects a “tightening” the president’s campaign had already noticed. “We’ve been tracking it for some time,” Freeman said Thursday. “We’ve watched it go from a solid-Republican (state) to a leaning-Republican to, we believe, a toss-up state now. We think we’re just a point or two behind and th

Bain is the opening salvo, not the closer

In criticizing Cory Booker's statements on MTP yesterday, I heard several people suggest that the current  focus on Bain was the heart of the Obama campaign message. I agree that's what they're focusing on now and that Booker's comments were hurtful. But I disagree that an attack on Romney's Bain record will be the heart of the Obama campaign. First of all, since when have we seen this President focus a campaign on the short-comings of his opponent? Its an important message to get out there in the early days in order to help frame the narrative on Romney. But its certainly not what President Obama will stake his campaign on. We've all witnessed the precision with which someone like David Plouffe plans an effective campaign.  I've written recently  about the fact that they have very successfully controlled the narrative with well-timed roll-outs of what they want to talk about when. The heart of the battle between Obama and Romney on our economy is yet

Cory Booker can be wrong without being a "traitor"

So Mayor Cory Booker went on MTP this morning and said something dumb. As  Karoli has done at C&L,  tell him it was a bad idea to say what he did. But my twitter timeline is absolutely full of everything from calling Booker a traitor and yes, even a house negro, to saying he sold out and is likely waiting on a telephone call from Romney asking him to be his VP. This is ridiculous folks. Why does someone disagreeing with us automatically invoke that kind of reaction? Its exactly what  I was trying to write about yesterday. I have tremendous respect for  Steve Kornacki.  But what he just wrote today about Cory Booker is wrong. First of all, since when does a hunger strike against open-air drug dealing and violence in public housing get reduced to "self-generated publicity?" If having friends from Ivy League schools and taking donations from elite donors is enough to tar a politician's reputation, then we're going to have trouble defending President (and Mrs.

"A single garment of destiny"

An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  - Martin Luther King, Jr. I would assume that Rev. King would say that wherever justice prevails is a cause for celebration. And so I thought of that quote when I saw this cartoon at  Daily Kos  today. There were no words accompanying the cartoon. Only the title: "...and those other halos...?" Its the depiction of the other parts of the democratic coalition as somehow angry at this historic moment that is so childish and divisive.  Not only that - its exactly what those on the  right would like to see happen. To be honest, I think its only a very small contingent on the left that buys into this kind of divisiveness. That's why the resolution by the NAACP in support of marriage equality is so important. Heaven knows that group still has a long way to go in their struggle. But they were able to see that we're all in this together. The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure th

Protest Fail

I'm sure that as the NATO meeting gets underway in Chicago today, one of the stories we'll be hearing about is the protest and police response. Of course this one was taken up a notch yesterday with  the arrest of three people  for plots to blow up things like the Obama campaign headquarters and Rahm Emmanuel's house. Yeah, that's a good look for the left...NOT. But overall, I think  David Frum  actually summarized pretty well why this kind of protest fails. Your core problem is this: Your supporters seem to think of protest as an expressive activity, a way for them to tell the world how they feel. But protest is not an expressive activity. It is a communicative activity. If you crave self-expression, join a creative-writing class. If you want to relieve your feelings, see a therapist. The medium is the message, as the saying goes. People won't hear what you have to say if they don't like how you behave. Or don't understand it. I doubt its likely that

Mitt Romney: The Demon Barber of Wall Street

With all due respect to  Stephen Sondheim  ;-)

What I learned while blogging

This is something that's been rolling around in my head the last few days and I thought I'd take a stab at writing about it. I'm pretty sure it will be interesting to no one but me - but hey, this is my blog so that's the fun of it. I get to please myself. I first noticed blogs back in 2004. I've always been somewhat of a political junkie. But it was Howard Dean's campaign that introduced me to them as a way to connect with other political junkies online. I didn't participate - but I read and didn't feel so alone. Like many liberals, the first community blog I found was Daily Kos. I started reading there around the time of the 2004 election and felt such relief in hanging out with others who were just as depressed and enraged as I was at Bush's re-election. Again, I didn't participate - just read. And then the pie wars hit. It all started over a pretty sexist ad that made me somewhat uncomfortable, but I was willing to look beyond it. What