Monday, April 30, 2012

Help

I had the pleasure of hearing Tina perform this song as part of her "Private Dancer" tour. After all the years of knowing every word and note, I felt like I heard it for the first time that night.

Why we don't need a CEO-in-Chief

We've already talked about how Mitt Romney is planning to abandon any effort to challenge President Obama on the "likability" front. Instead, he seems poised to make the case that he'd be a better CEO-in-Chief.

I've posted this video a couple of times before. But I think its very instructive about why that won't work.



We should remind the American public that in 2010, we tried this experiment in several states with CEO-type approaches to governorships. When faced with opposition from legislatures and the public, what have governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Rick Scott done? They've done what most CEO's in that situation do - they've taken "executive action" to pull a power play. Here's a perfect description of how that came down with Gov. Scott in Florida.

The heart of the problem was that Scott was deliberately turning down thousands of jobs in a state with high unemployment, and turning his back on millions of dollars of economic development. But part of the political problem is that the governor acted unilaterally -- he hadn't told other GOP officials what he planned to do, didn't seek their input, and didn't care what anyone else at any level of government thought.

Scott says he's just acting like a CEO. Florida Republicans know this, and want him to stop.
We can have a discussion about whether or not this type of approach works for a CEO in business, but PespsiCO Chairman & CEO Indra Nooyi  is clearly wise enough to know that running the government in a democratic republic requires a very different approach.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Obama's second term agenda

OMG - the wingers are right. Last night President Obama finally revealed his secret agenda for a second term.



;-)

The trap of either/or thinking

When I wrote my previous post about Obama campaigning on going after al Qaeda, I hadn't read Peter Bergen's article from yesterday titled Warrior in Chief. But he makes some of the same arguments I did.
None of this should have surprised anyone who had paid close attention to what Mr. Obama said about the use of force during his presidential campaign. In an August 2007 speech on national security, he put the nation — and the world — on alert: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,” he said, referring to Pervez Musharraf, then president of Pakistan. He added, “I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America.”
While Bergen seems to applaud President Obama's approach, he makes some of the same mistakes the liberal critics tend to employ by equating the President's approach to that of his predecessor George Bush. In the end though, he provides us with a clue about why that tends to happen so often.
Still, the American public and chattering classes continue to regard the president as a thinker, not an actor; a negotiator, not a fighter.

What accounts for the strange, persistent cognitive dissonance about this president and his relation to military force?...Whatever the causes, the president has embraced SEAL Team 6 rather than Code Pink, yet many continue to see him as the negotiator in chief rather than the warrior in chief that he actually is.
It comes down to a predilection for either/or thinking. Is President Obama a thinker OR and actor; is he a negotiator OR a fighter; has he embraced SEAL Team 6 OR Code Pink?

What if he is wise enough to embrace both - depending on the situation?

Bergen quotes from President Obama's speech on accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, where he joined Reinhold Niebuhr in stating that he accepts the world as it is - rather than as we want it to be. In his role as Commander in Chief, that means being prepared to use military force. But Bergen fails to talk about what the President said next.
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.  And yet this truth must coexist with another -- that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. 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.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths -- that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions." A gradual evolution of human institutions.
I'm also reminded of the President's words at his inauguration.
And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity.  And we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations...

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you...

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
It is only a small mind that cannot envision leadership that incorporates both the fighter AND the negotiator...both the thinker AND the actor. Regardless of whether he always gets it right in every situation, the fact of the matter is that we have a President who embraces both.

President Obama campaigned on going after al Qaeda

I wonder how many of you have heard President Obama's critics on the left suggest that he has strayed from his campaign rhetoric in his actions against al Qaeda in places like Pakistan. The most recent experience I've had with that was watching a video of Glenn Greenwald and David Frum in which they discussed their various theories about why the President would change his tune so dramatically once he got into the White House (if you're interested in watching that discussion, click on the bullet point below the video titled "Has Obama realized that Bush was right on national security?)

Trouble is...he didn't change at all. And this video mash-up of things the President said during the debates with Sen. McCain demonstrates that all along he said that al Qaeda was the threat (not Iraq!) and that he would go after them in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, he told us during the campaign exactly what he was going to do...and has done.



The question about whether or not this is the right policy is a whole other discussion. But the only ones who are surprised at what President Obama has done are those who fooled themselves into thinking he was saying what they wanted to hear.

Romney concedes on "likability" - will run on his "credentials"



From the Wall Street Journal:
Mitt Romney may be conceding — the likability battle, that is.

Eric Fehrnstrom and Peter Flaherty, senior advisers to the Romney campaign, acknowledged in the starkest terms yet that instead of trying to win the likability race against President Barack Obama, they’ll focus on their candidate’s credentials.
So lets take a look at what the Romney campaign will have to work with when it comes to credentials.

In the arena of public service, Steve Benen demonstrates that Romney has the least experience of any presidential candidate since the 1940's.

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(click here for a larger view.)
And using this metric, Romney has only four years under his belt. He served one term as the governor of Massachusetts -- and that's it. This makes Romney the least experienced major-party presidential nominee since Republican Wendell Wilkie lost to FDR in 1940. If Romney wins, he'll be the least experienced president since Woodrow Wilson, who won exactly 100 years ago, despite only having been governor of New Jersey for two years before his national campaign.
So its clear that "credentials" don't include public service. Perhaps they're talking about Romney's years as a vulture capitalist where he is the personification of the character Gordon Gekko. Its true that Romney's rhetoric, stripped of all its spin, mirrors the famous line from Gekko.
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A.
So I say "go for it" Romney campaign. Run on your guy's credentials. Its just as much of a strategy for failure as trying to make him appear likable.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

No commentary required (ok, well just a little) 4/28/12

Here are a couple of stories that caught my eye today.

Tonight is the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner. While last year's was a highlight - with President Obama's taking on Trump mano-a-mano - the truly most memorable one for me featured the all-time greatest smack-down of a politician by a comedian...Steven Colbert roasting Bush.

Last night Colbert was at it again at Time's 100 Most Influential People Event. This time he took on David Koch - eyeball to eyeball. Enjoy!
Of course, all of us should be honored to be listed on the TIME 100 alongside the two men who will be slugging it out in the fall:  President Obama, and the man who would defeat him, David Koch.

Give it up everybody. David Koch.

Little known fact -- David, nice to see you again, sir.

Little known fact, David's brother Charles Koch is actually even more influential.  Charles pledged $40 million to defeat President Obama, David only $20 million. That's kind of cheap, Dave.

Sure, he's all for buying the elections, but when the bill for democracy comes up, Dave's always in the men's room. I'm sorry, I must have left Wisconsin in my other coat.

I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am -- thank you, thank you -- and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC. And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there's no way for you to ever know whether that's a joke.

By the way, if David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.
Frank Luntz's job these days seems to be to senitmentalize the Republican Party. He's doing his darndest to try to make them appear humane. His latest effort is to list the 5 "myths" about Republicans.
  1. Conservatives care most about the size of government.
  2. Conservatives want to deport all illegal immigrants.
  3. They worship Wall Street.
  4. Conservatives want to slash Social Security and Medicare.
  5. Conservatives don’t care about inequality.
As I read his explanation of how those are all myths, I scratched my head and wondered, "Then why is it that these folks hate President Obama so much? Could it be a certain melanin enhancement in his skin?

Then there's a story that won't get much notice. But its one of those bedrock things that makes me so proud of the Obama administration - especially the leadership of AG Eric Holder. The article is written by Tim Purdon, US Attorney for the District of North Dakota.
This week we were honored to have the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Jim Cole, visit the District of North Dakota on a singular mission: to meet with tribal leaders, tribal youth, and all of our law enforcement partners to discuss what we can all do as partners to strengthen public safety in Indian country. This mission is a top priority of the Department of Justice and a clear mandate from Attorney General Holder, who has committed each U.S. Attorney District with Indian country jurisdiction to develop an operational plan and to meet annually with tribal leaders to find ways to reduce violent crime.
Finally...some eye candy. (Don't blame me - its all Chipstick's fault.)

Romney needs a game-changer

I know its early and that a lot can change between now and election day. But I can't help myself. As a political junkie, I can't seem to tear myself away from the polls and what they tell us about how this race is going.

First of all, we need to constantly be reminded that this is NOT an election where the popular vote is the deciding factor. All those national polls are interesting and instructive in their own way. On that front, may I remind everyone that Gallup continues their daily tracking poll and as of yesterday its Obama 50% and Romney 43%. Since just two weeks ago they had Romney up by 2 and that was big news of a Romney surge, are we now hearing about a huge shift towards Obama in the election? Not so much.

But the real news is in the electoral college. The best take on that I've found is actually at Huffington Post (I know what a mess that site is, but go take a look. This one is instructive.) They have President Obama at 269 electoral votes - one shy of the 270 needed to win. That's because Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are now "leaning Obama" with polling averages of a 4-5% lead. That leaves 8 states in the "toss up" category (Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada) totaling 99 electoral votes in all. Obama would only need to win one of those states whereas Romney would have to sweep them all AND add either Michigan, Ohio or Pennsylvania to win.

In those toss up states, Romney has a small lead in Iowa and Missouri, Obama leads in North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Florida and Nevada, with Arizona basically tied. What that means is that if the race were held today, Obama would score a decisive win. What Romney needs is a game-changer.

I think that's where Romney as the Republican nominee comes into play. There is no way he's going to pull off a game changer based on his personality or campaigning style. No way!

It would take some outside source and/or event to even put his candidacy into play at this point. So let's take a look at what some of the possibilities are. The important point to note here is that all of these things could swing the tenor of the campaign either way.

  1. Of course there's the conventional wisdom about "it's the economy, stupid." But even if the economy worsens, Romney will have to make the case that it was Obama's fault and he has better ideas about how to fix it.
  2. There is the battle of Super PAC media buys vs. the ground game to keep an eye on. I personally don't think the media buys will cut it. So far the Obama campaign is having as much impact with media as the Republican Super PACs. And we all know from 2008 what a difference a real political ground game can be.
  3. In just 2 months the Supreme Court is going to announce their decision on health care reform. That will change the debate in this campaign no matter what they decide.
  4. An unpredictable global or domestic event could overtake the conversation. The possibilities are endless here, but think about things from the recent past like the Arab Spring or the Gulf Oil Spill. 
  5. There's Romney's relationship to Republicans in Congress to keep an eye on. He's already faced some challenges with that when it came to things like student loans and the Violence Against Women Act. Upcoming could be tangles over whether or not to abide by the deal struck in last summer's debt ceiling deal. If that one heats up - where will Romney stand? 
So the bottom line is that Romney needs a game-changer. Trouble is - he needs it to be something that swings things his way AND he'll need the political skills to capitalize on it. That's a tall order for him.

Thoughtful centrists send out a wake-up call to America and the press

There are those who pose as centrists observers to our political system - people like Tom Friedman and organizations like Americans Elect. And then there are the real thing - people like Norm Ornstein (with the American Enterprise Institute) and Thomas Mann (with the Brookings Institute). Yesterday, the later two wrote a column for the Washington Post that sent out a wake-up call to the American people and the press.  Its true that nothing they've written is likely to be news to any readers here. The importance of this article is not what they're saying but who is finally saying it. Take a look.
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing  partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.
FINALLY the center notices!!!!

Ornstein and Mann go on to trace the historical trajectory of how we got here and describe how its affecting our current inability to deal with the challenges facing us today. And then they give some powerful advice to both the American voting public and the press.
If our democracy is to regain its health and vitality, the culture and ideological center of the Republican Party must change. In the short run, without a massive (and unlikely) across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls, that will not happen. If anything, Washington’s ideological divide will probably grow after the 2012 elections...

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?...

In the end, while the press can make certain political choices understandable, it is up to voters to decide. If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better.
President Obama often refers to the historic choice facing voters in this election. I believe this is what it all comes down to...will America resoundingly reject the ideological extremism embraced by the Republican Party of today and allow us to move forward in dialogue about how to address the issues of the day? Or do we stay mired in gridlock perpetrated as a power play by Republicans?

In that light, I'd join Ornstein and Mann in suggesting that a mere victory for Democrats is not enough. What we need is an "across-the-board rejection of the GOP at the polls." And its up to us to make that happen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Obama advantage captured in one short video

I've been talking about President Obama's advantage lately. Today TPM did a wonderful job of capturing it on video.



Now do you see why Republicans are so worried? They have good reason to be!

Republicans can't handle the Obama advantage

We've already established that President Obama has a HUGE advantage over Mitt Romney. Just as a reminder, here it is in graph form. And this week, the President reminded everybody just how "cool" he is too :-)


(Go ahead and watch it again...you KNOW you want to.)

But Rove and Co. need to do something about that, now don't they? What's a Super PAC to do with all those millions against something like that? Well...here's what.



Hey Karl - thanks for the memories. But 4 years ago it was YOUR GUY who was busy making a mess of things.

Peggy Noonan gets in on the act too. What was the WSJ doing when they gave her most recent column this title: A Bush League President? Note to WSJ Editorial Page: reminding people of our most recent Bush League presidency is probably NOT a way to discredit Obama. But all that aside, I found it fascinating how she tried to tackle this issue of Obama's advantage.

...this president is always out there, talking. But—and forgive me, because what I'm about to say is rude—has anyone noticed how boring he is? Plonking platitude after plonking platitude. To see Mr. Obama on the stump is to see a man at the podium who's constantly dribbling away the punch line. He looks pleasant but lacks joy; he's cool but lacks vigor. A lot of what he says could have been said by a president 12 or 20 years ago, little is anchored to the moment. As he makes his points he often seems distracted, as if he's holding a private conversation in his head, noticing crowd size, for instance, and wishing the front row would start fainting again, like they used to...

It is still so surprising that a person who seems bored by politicking has risen to the highest political office in the land. Politics is a fleshly profession, it's all hugging, kissing, arm twisting, shaking hands. It involves contact. When you see politicians on C-Span, in the well of the House or the Senate after a vote, they're always touching each other's arms and shoulders. They touch each other more than actors! Bill Clinton was fleshly, and LBJ. How odd to have a Democratic president who doesn't seem to like humans all that much.
Ms. Noonan wants us to think President Obama is boring...lacks vigor...is distracted...and doesn't like humans all that much.

Hmmmm. If you were that pesky fly on the wall watching the President's travels this week, what would you have seen?

Boring platitudes?



Lacks vigor?



Doesn't do the "touching" thing?







Who the hell is Noonan talking about?

I'd suggest that maybe she's referring to their guy.

(Much gratitude to Chipsticks at The Obama Diary for the video and pictures!)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Senator Franken honors Sheila Wellstone




Yep...that's my Senator. And I couldn't be more proud of you than I am today!

I believe that Senator Franken gets up every day vowing to do whatever he can to honor the legacy of his good friends Paul and Sheila Wellstone. That's probably not a bad way to live your life.

Sometimes I think that I still have faith in the possibility of honest politicians because I once had the honor of being represented by the Wellstones.

Sheila - with all the support Paul could provide - worked tirelessly on behalf of women who are the victims of domestic violence. I have to believe that while she'd be celebrating todays Senate reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, she'd also be a bit furious that it was even controversial.

So I join you today Senator Franken in remembering the legacy of this great American couple.  I also join you in getting a little teary when I think about how very much we miss them.

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Can we talk?

Julian Sanchez calls it epistemic closure.
One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) 
Unfortunately he only focused on this phenomenon as it affected contemporary conservatives. But I'm here to tell you that it is also affecting liberals. Perhaps not to the same extent, but its definitely an issue.

Sometimes its a function of geography. If you live in a liberal urban area like I do, you experience politics very differently than someone living in suburban Dallas (those are simply two places I'm familiar with). But then there's also the challenge of what information we let it. In other words - who do we listen to/read and who do we shut out?

When is the last time you actually had a conversation - in real life or online - with a tea partier? Or a blue dog for that matter? For those of us in the pragmatic progressive arena, when is the last time we had something other than a shouting match with the poutragers? And when did they ever take the time to do anything other than call us a "bot" and do their best to shut us down?

We tend to find those conversations pointless - and rightly so. But what does that mean for democracy? Are we destined to assume that anyone who doesn't agree with us is "the enemy?" And if so, can we ever let down our guard and admit that sometimes we have questions or simply don't know the answers? If not, that's a sure recipe for stagnation.

I was reminded of all this when Sunita Sohoni over at The Maddow Blog posted a link and an image to a physics paper on the subject.


Red and green nodes represent people with different political persuasions, like Democrats and Republicans, and the gray lines between them represent communication, dialogue. A healthy society would look something like the image on the far left, where people have different ideas, and there's a lot of debate and discussion between them. An unhealthy society would look like the example on the far right, where there are two distinct ideologies and little-to-no communication between them. 
One of the co-authors of the paper, Cristian Huepe, says "unfortunately, the fragmented state is a much more common final state" in today's world, due in part to the niche media and something the physicist refers to as "circular referencing".

The truth is that those who disagree with us are not always wrong. And we're not always right. But there's no place for that kind of thinking in our politics today.

Its also very bad for liberals - especially white male heterosexuals ones.

In the broad sense, it leads to sound bites, cynicism and polarization. Those are all things that turn people off to politics and shrink the electorate...feeding right into the Republican agenda.

President Obama put it very well years ago.
I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose.  Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate... 
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.
The reason its especially bad for white male heterosexual liberals is that disabusing oneself of privilege means recognizing that part of what the privilege has done is that it has made you unaware of its existence. The only way to deal with that is to get out of our bubble of "sameness" and listen to what those who have different experiences have to tell us.

Ending this isolation in our conversations will inevitably lead to the discomfort of disagreement. But unless we go there - we never grow.

And so I have to wonder...can we talk?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A thought experiment for the tea baggers

OK, so no one has every accused the tea baggers of thought. But still...lets take a little trip on their logic train - shall we?

We all know that when it comes to the tea bagger crowd - birtherism just won't die. What they suggest is that President Obama's short-form (and for some, his long-form) birth certificate is a forgery.

We also know that the federal government accepted it as proof of his place of birth when he applied for a passport and that either the passport or his birth certificate were enough to get a driver's license.

So if Barack Hussein Obama can get a passport and a driver's license based on a forged birth certificate, who's to say anyone can't do it?

And if we can get a fake picture ID, why would anyone have any confidence in them as proof of status for voting?

This is REALLY something someone should look into, don't you think?

< snark off >

Romney for "fairness"...really?

We all know that for months now, President Obama has been talking about "fairness." Here's  what he said in his State of the Union speech.
"We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules," he told a joint session of Congress gathered in the chambers of the House of Representatives. "What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them."
So I find it fascinating that last night in his big speech on basically winning the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made a stab at trying to co-opt the theme.
Romney outlined an agenda aimed at combating what he called “unfairness” in government, spinning a phrase often employed by Democrats as they make the case that wealthier Americans and corporations should pay higher taxes...While other Republicans often debate these arguments by emphasizing “opportunity,” Romney adopted the “fairness” language to criticize federal spending.

“This America is fundamentally fair,” he said. “We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”
This is such a typical Republican strategy - completely robbing a word of its meaning and then co-opting it. Remember how we were bringing Iraqis "freedom" by invading and occupying their country? That's just the first and most ridiculous example that came to my mind. But there are hundreds of them. They think that if they put a nice title on something ("Clear Skies Initiative" anyone?) they can fool us into believing they're going to work on our behalf. Utter nonsense.

Steve Benen tears this one apart.
Romney reached out, for example, to "the mom and dad who never thought they'd be on food stamps," without acknowledging that he supports slashing funding for food stamps. He spoke repeatedly about "unfairness" in the economy, without mentioning he supports some millionaires and billionaires paying a lower tax rate than most of the middle class. He talked about rising debt without noting that he has no way of paying for the massive tax breaks he's sworn to pass. He said he'd rescue "grandparents" without acknowledging that he intends to turn Medicare into a voucher program, push partial privatization of Social Security, and bring back the Medicare prescription drug "donut hole."

Listening to Romney, an uninformed voter would probably have no idea that his promises bear no resemblance to his stated intentions. The former governor said last night, "It's still about the economy -- and we're not stupid." It's a nice little line, but it rankles because Romney is absolutely counting on ignorance and gullibility to advance his ambitions.
Just how stupid does he think we are?!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is this the face of a criminal?


That's a picture of 6 year old kindergartner Salecia Johnson who was arrested and handcuffed recently at her elementary school.
Salecia Johnson cannot sleep at night. According to her mother, Constance Ruff, the 6-year-old wakes up repeatedly through the night screaming, "They're coming to get me!" Last week the kindergartner was handcuffed and arrested by police at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Ga., and taken to the police station for having a temper tantrum after school officials called the authorities. She is traumatized.
Seriously...this has GOT TO STOP!
Salecia... has had an early ride on what we call the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track. They, like millions of other children in this country, are victims of the school-to-prison pipeline -- a system of zero-tolerance policies in schools across the nation that takes an unyielding approach to student discipline and in which children of color are punished more often and more severely for minor misbehavior than their white peers. It is a system in which common sense becomes irrelevant as intolerance reigns and the consequences are high: academic failure, criminal charges and damage to the psyche.
If this is something you care about as much as I do, perhaps the best thing you can do is inform yourself about the issue and get involved with your local school district. And if you'd like to support Salecia and her parents, you can sign the petition at Change.org.

Hispanics front and center in 2012 election

As Mitt Romney begins his etch-a-sketch moves on immigration issues, President Obama launches Latinos for Obama and the Supreme Court hears the challenge to Arizona's racist immigration law, there's no doubt that - at least for now - the Hispanic vote is front and center in this year's election.

But there are a couple of stories that aren't hitting the headlines. For example, a recent poll by the Morrison Institute found Arizona to be basically a tie between Obama and Romney.
According to the poll of 488 registered voters, 42 percent said they would vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, while 40 percent said they would support President Barack Obama and 18 percent were undecided. Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent, if the election were held today the contest for Arizona’s 11 electoral votes would be a “toss up.”
The poll found that the electorate is divided along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans said they would vote for Romney, 78 percent of Democrats for Obama. Although the sample of political independents is small (n=166), independents appear to be breaking slightly more for Obama (38 percent) than Romney (28 percent). However, the independent vote is still up for grabs because 34 percent of independents said they are undecided.
If this poll holds up, it explains why the Obama campaign decided to make a play for the state. With 18% of the vote undecided, now is the time to get the ground game there organized.

And here's bit of news that might come as a complete shock to the nativist tea baggers (that is, if they ever paid attention to actual facts): For the first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave US than enter.
A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center. It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.
Of course the bad job market in the US and stepped up enforcement are partially credited with this change. But as the quote above alludes to, there are some changes in Mexico that are just as important. First of all, Mexico's birth rate is dropping precipitously.
Mexico’s birth rate, once among the world’s highest, is in free-fall. In the 1960s Mexican mothers had nearly seven children each (whereas women in India then had fewer than six). The average now is just over two—almost the same as in the United States. The UN reckons that from 2040 the birth rate in Mexico will be the lower of the two.
Another factor is that Mexico is actually growing a middle class.
A wary but tenacious middle class is fast becoming the majority in Mexico, breaking down the rich-poor divide in a profound demographic transformation that has far-reaching implications here and in the United States. Although many Mexicans and their neighbors to the north still imagine a country of downtrodden masses dominated by a wealthy elite, the swelling ranks of the middle class are crowding new Wal-Marts, driving Nissan sedans and maxing out their Banamex credit cards.
And yes, that is the context for the recent story about the Wall Mart in Mexico bribery scandal.

This is the kind of information we need to have in order to understand the Mexican-American vote in the US. Perhaps it means we could finally stop that crazy talk about building a stupid fence. Just who is it they think its going to keep out? The more critical question on immigration is what we are going to do with the 12 million people who are already here without legal status. If we could have a sane conversation about that one - incorporating these kinds of facts - perhaps we would come close to addressing the issues facing many Hispanics in this country.

Monday, April 23, 2012

About that Gallup poll...

Remember just a week ago when the big news was that Gallup's new tracking poll had Romney leading Obama 47-45?

Now - a mere 7 days later you'll never guess what happened. In that same Gallup tracking poll, Obama leads Romney 47-44.

The truth is that a 2-3% lead in most polls is within their margin of error. And as we've already seen, Gallup has some questions to answer about their sampling.

The problem is with the news media making a big story out of nothing.

This one means a lot...to me


President Obama hugs Ellie Wiesel during ceremonies at the Holocaust Museum


I was first introduced to the writings of Ellie Wiesel while I was in seminary. At the time, I was in the middle of questioning almost everything I had come to believe.

In his book Night, which is based on Wiesel's own experiences in a Nazi concentration camp as a young man, one of his characters tries to console another during a particularly gruesome episode. Reacting, the one questions the existence of God and how he can let this evil happen. The other responds by telling him that God isn't causing this - he is experiencing it. That hit the root of where so much of my confusion was buried.

Now I'm one of those people that thinks we create our gods in our own image. Is it any wonder then, that we create gods that lust for power more than love and empathy?

That's what this man opened my eyes to a very long time ago. I hope I'm a better person for it.

Thank you Ellie Wiesel. And thank you President Obama for shinning a spotlight on this amazing human being.

Is a Grand Bargain still possible?

If you remember during the debt ceiling negotiations last summer, President Obama was pushing for a "Grand Bargain" on our federal deficit that would include Republican demands to cut spending and Democratic demands to increase taxes on the wealthy. When negotiations on that failed, the deal struck included a Super Committee in Congress to give in another try - which also failed.  The fallback from the original deal means that as of January 1, 2013, spending cuts kick in (with HUGE reductions in military spending) and the Bush tax cuts expire.

So is a Grand Bargain still possible? John Harwood thinks so.

...beneath the campaign noise, some elected officials and policy experts see improving odds for 2012 to end up yielding much more, including progress toward a deal on tax and budget issues that have confounded Washington’s divided government. Some say the campaign dialogue could even bring a deal closer.

The optimists include leading stakeholders in Washington’s oft-spurned centrist boutique, which may be especially vulnerable to wishful analysis. But two looming events — an automatic $1.2 trillion budget “sequester” hitting defense and domestic spending, and the expiration of all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts — will create pressure for the two parties to strike a compromise.

“The probability of a deal strikes me as pretty high, since no agreement would be such a disaster,” said Peter R. Orszag.

Steve Bell, a longtime Senate Republican budget aide now at the said the White House and Congress “will not allow the sequester to occur and all theBush tax cuts to expire. They’re going to be looking at each other on Nov. 20 and saying, ‘Well, what do you want to do?
Harwood seems to be suggesting that this won't come up until a lame duck session after the election.  But as we've already seen, the Republicans are going to have to decide whether to force the discussion now (Boehner and House Republicans) - risking a government shutdown over this year's budget - or put it off until later (McConnell and Senate Republicans). Either way, it was the superior negotiations by Democrats and President Obama over the debt ceiling deal that continues to force their hand.

That's how you play the long game.

Ha! John Yoo agrees with Glenn Greenwald

If you've ever questioned my suggestion that the left/right political spectrum in this country is not linear, but that the two ends of the extremes eventually meet - then do I have a story for you!

The headlined article on The Daily Caller (wingnuts extraordinaire) this morning is titled Former Justice Official: Obama worse than Bush on civil liberties. Of course the "former justice official" is none other than torture-memo-writing John Yoo.

The Obama administration’s use of executive power has gone further than the Bush administration’s toward diminishing Americans’ civil liberties, author John Yoo told The Daily Caller...

Yoo said the anti-war movement has not criticized President Barack Obama, despite his administration’s formalization of a process for “targeted killing[s]” of American citizens without trial.

“You don’t see the same critics who so thrashed President Bush, for allegedly thinking he was a king, making the same arguments and engaging in the same criticism of President Obama,” Yoo told TheDC. “I think a reasonable person can only conclude that is because President Obama happens to be a Democrat, where as President Bush was a Republican.”
Remind you of anyone?

What these two sides of the left/right extremist divide share in common these days is what we've come to know of as Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS). And it inevitably leads to a meeting of the minds (?) when it comes to attacks. This is simply the most blatant example I've seen in a while.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Claire de Lune

I'm not sure why thinking about Earth Day reminded me of a song about the moon. But there you have it.

For a long time now I've thought that this is perhaps as close to perfection as music gets. When I close my eyes and just listen, I fall immediately into that place inside myself that feels like home. Usually the tears start to come as I recognize how long I've been away and how good it feels to come back.

So on this Earth Day, I invite you to take a trip back home with me.


Obama vs Romney on Energy Policy

The folks at Think Progress have put together a handy chart comparing Obama and Romney on energy policy.


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You can find their sources at the link above.

Of course this doesn't touch on what I believe is President Obama's most important contribution to renewable energy - the fact that DoD is going green. But its still a handy tool for demonstrating the choice we face on this issue.

Who's feeding political polarization and why: Steve Pearlstein joins the wankers

You might suggest that Steven Pearlstein should stick to economics and business reporting. And you'd have a point. People have often said the same thing about Paul Krugman when he wanks about politics instead of sticking to economics.

To demonstrate, I'm going to have a go at Pearlstein's latest article at WaPo - its so full of fail that I can't help myself.

Its abundantly clear that he drank the D.C. village kool-aid when he starts off his column by laying out the false equivalency premise as his starting point.

To say politics has become polarized is another way of saying that the politicians we nominate and elect have moved away from the ideological center, that the Democratic Party has become more liberal and the Republicans more conservative, with little or no overlap. Liberal Republicans are all but extinct, and conservative Democrats aren’t far behind. Genuine bipartisan compromise has gone from standard practice to quaint anomaly.
This one has been done to death. So I'm not going to spend a lot of time pointing out the reality that President Obama and the Democrats have continually reached out to work with Republicans only to see them slap their hands and march headlong over the cliff of extremism. Perhaps if you can't see that one central theme by now, you should stop right there.

But on he goes. And very quickly he gives us his infantile view of how "good" politics should work.
In the vision of politics that many of us carry around in our heads, it is the “median voter,” at the center of the ideological spectrum, who ultimately is supposed to determine the long-term course of government policy. In this model, the best way — the only way — for a party to increase its political market share is to moderate its views to attract such independent swing voters. When either party has tried a different strategy (Barry Goldwater in ’64, say, or George McGovern in ’72), it has failed.
First of all, we need to ask whether or not he's comparing modern-day Republicans to Barry Goldwater - who would definitely be considered a soshulist these days - and President Obama to George McGovern.  If so, all I can say is "puhleeze!"

Beyond that, I'd suggest that the antidote to polarization is not some chase after the "median voter," but to do what President Obama does so well...think through what would pragmatically work. That's the ideal we should all be striving for.

Pearlstein goes on to talk about how he thinks we got so far off track. And here's where he finds just a bit of sanity.
This transformation has its roots in what has become the dominant reality of American politics: the arms race in campaign finance. Candidates and parties now raise and spend enormous sums, well beyond what would reasonably be needed to provide for a well-informed electorate and well beyond what is raised and spent in other advanced democracies.
I'd agree that the "arms race in campaign finance" has had a terribly corrosive affect on our democracy. But I had to scratch my head to figure out how it contributes to polarization. Here's the connection Pearlstein makes.
And how is the money spent? Anyone with a telephone, TV set or Internet connection has surely noticed that it is mainly used to produce an ever-increasing volume of negative, distorting and ideologically tinged advertising about opposing candidates and parties.
First of all, I'd suggest that Mr. Pearlstein could use a little education on how the Obama campaign is spending their money (hint: staffing the ground game gets 5 times the amount as media buys/production).

But even more importantly, I've thought for a long time that this country needs a serious discussion about what constitutes "negative" advertising. The truth is - as a culture we have lost the idea of what it means to disagree. There is a stark difference between saying your opponent is an unpatriotic danger to the country and saying their policies will not work. The later is not negative advertising...its simple disagreement. Too many people fail to make that distinction and its why we have so much trouble talking to each other.

But lets get to the heart of what Pearlstein is saying. He gives it away in his title: Turned off from politics? That's exactly what politicians want. Yeah, that's why Republicans are so hell-bent on things like voter ID laws that will keep people from being able to vote and Democrats are fighting them tooth and nail.

Pearstein ends his article with a statement that should be anathema to any Democrat.
Government can’t be the solution when it is the problem.
Lets see...where have we heard that before?

I'd suggest that if Pearlstein wants to understand why - no matter what Democrats do - Republicans have a vested interest in keeping voters turned off to politics - he should take a look at what retired Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren said when he pulled the curtain back to expose the cynical tactics employed by that party.
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
From the horse's mouth you have the reason why one political party has a vested interest in the polarization that leads to a stagnation in our system of governance. And you, Mr. Pearlstein, have played right into their hand.

The blind men and the elephant

In a perfect example of how two people can look at the same information and draw opposite conclusions, take a look at two headlines from the biggest newspapers in the country on President Obama's fundraising to date for the 2012 election:

First, from the New York Times: Obama Sees Steep Dropoff in Cash From Major Donors.

From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their super PAC allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
Now, for the Washington Post: Big money in a big way for Obama's reelection campaign.

President Obama’s reelection campaign has been rapidly increasing the number of big money “bundlers” collecting checks for his reelection, doubling the number of financiers who have brought in at least $500,000.
The influx during the first quarter of the year shows the president is getting an especially warm embrace from Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry, partly making up for a drop in support from Wall Street after Democrats passed broad new regulations for the financial sector, according to a list of fundraisers released by the campaign on Friday.

I gave you a little taste of what each article is talking about so perhaps you can see the nuance that is driving the disparate headlines - the NYT is reporting on single big donors and WaPo is looking at bundlers. So they're working with the exact same information and come to opposite conclusions based on where they chose to focus.

I think this is a perfect example of a phenomenon we see very often in the media. Much of the time its driven by ideological and political differences...Fox News and MSNBC reporting on the same thing and coming to opposite conclusions. I don't know the reporters well for these two stories but last fall we saw the same phenomena play out between the NYT and WaPo. Its just a fact of life when you're dealing with human beings. I'm reminded of the old story about the blind men and the elephant.

And so once again we have an example about why being an informed voter is hard work. I'd suggest that you need to read both articles to get the whole story. Or just read my summary from yesterday ;-)


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The quickening art

This is an excerpt from a documentary titled Alive Inside. NEVER underestimate the power of music!

Driving the Republicans Crazy

I'm going to recommend that you head over to Daily Kos and read Vyan's diary titled What is Driving Repubs Crazy? I think you'll find a lot of themes there that I've been talking about for awhile. And he's put it all together beautifully.

This isn't about policy, which is why they [Republicans] don't put forward policies that might actually gain popular support or be GOOD FOR PEOPLE which would keep them in office on the basis of merit, it's about maintaining power by force and coercion. They're out to take as much ground as possible right now... because they know soon - they're going to lose it.  All of it.

They're afraid that if Democrats - who have the audacity to believe that Government is actually good for something manage to be successful - then people will want more of that success.  The kind of success that Bill Clinton had with the economy and the budget.  If people get more of that, if we actually have a efficient and effective Government, then the GOP is doomed.  Permanently.  They can't have that, so they've been deliberately sabotaging the country just to undermine the President. 
It has to do with inevitability. 
It has to do with the slow, gradual, demographic realities that the core of the GOP - middle-aged, aggrieved, white men and their sycophantic trophy wives/mistresses (and their blind willful deluded cult of lickspittle lackeys who operate and listen to Right-Wing Radio and Fox News) -  are no longer the majority in this nation.  They are becoming like the rest of us - a minority. 
They are acting out, because they see their coming irrelevance staring them in the face. 

They've said it many times.  They see their America disappearing from them.  The America where they call the shots.  The America where their Religious Views, their business practices, and their people prosper, not the rest of us. 

They're very afraid of this New America.  Their very worried that once they become an electoral minority, just like everyone else already is.  Once they're no longer in the drivers seat. Once their fate is in the hands of all the Women, the Latinos, the Blacks, Asians, the Gays/Transgendered, the Non-Christians and Athiests... 
Once we hold control of their fate... 
We just might, possibly...
Treat Them Nearly As SHITTY as they've been treating us all this Time!

WOW, did he nail it or what?

While we always have to call these folks out on their shit, this is why I never bother to lose my cool over it. We know how this one is going to end - so do they. That's exactly why they're so pissed off.

Obama continues to reform campaign finance

It is my contention that, absent meaningful campaign finance laws, President Obama has been reforming our system simply by the way he's raising money for his own campaign. To demonstrate that, I'm likely to write about this topic regularly as the 2012 race rolls out.

The web site Open Secrets has now updated their information as a result of incorporating FEC filings from the candidates through the end of March. So lets look at the Obama/Romney race from several perspectives.

Amount Raised

The total amounts raised so far for each campaign are as follows:

Obama: $191, 671,860
Romney: $86,631,381

Obviously President Obama has the advantage here with having raised over twice the amount Romney has. But in the post-Citizens United world, that can be deceiving because it leaves out the fact that Romney-supporting Super PACs have dwarfed Obama's in the amount of cash they're bringing in. We can be sure that they'll more than make up for the difference.

What that sets up though is even more of a contrast in campaign styles given that Super PAC spending will almost exclusively be focused on a media campaign. Romney won't have the funds to complete with Obama's huge investment in the ground game.

Source of Donations

As I've discussed before, whenever we hear about particular industry's donations to a campaign, the truth is that we're looking at donations from individuals who work in those industries and not the companies themselves. Still, its interesting to note the differences between the campaigns in terms of who they are attracting.

Here is a listing of the top five companies whose employees are donating to each campaign.

Obama

Microsoft Corp$289,088
DLA Piper$217,582
Google Inc$167,565
University of California$157,092
Harvard University$155,808
Romney

Goldman Sachs$535,680
JPMorgan Chase & Co$375,650
Morgan Stanley$323,800
Credit Suisse Group$299,160
Citigroup Inc$282,765

Do you see the pattern there? Wall Street has definitely chosen its candidate.


Size and Number of Donations

While 45% of Obama's total has come from small individual contributions (under $250), they account for only 10% of Romney's total. That results in a HUGE difference in terms of the number of people who have donated to each campaign. Here's a powerful chart on that from The Obama Diary via BuzzFeed showing the number of donors in March for Romney 12, Bush 04, and Obama 12.






Its the grassroots in action for Obama...you and me. And that's how we reform a government bought and paid for by the wealthy.


Bundlers


Here's how Open Secrets defines bundlers:

Bundlers are people with friends in high places who, after bumping against personal contribution limits, turn to those friends, associates, and, well, anyone who's willing to give, and deliver the checks to the candidate in one big "bundle."
Even though the law doesn't require candidates to identify bundlers (other than paid lobbyists), the Obama campaign has always made the decision to release this information. But the Romney campaign does not. Its important to keep that in mind when the wingnuts start with their pearl clutching about who shows up on Obama's list.

So there you have it folks. An Obama campaign that's able to keep up with Karl Rove's big boys via thousands of small donations with an emphasis on transparency vs a Romney campaign dependent on a few large contributions from Wall Street and secret donations to Super PACs.

Of course these kinds of differences are both driven by and lead to huge differences in the policies of these two candidates. Based on this information alone, I think the choice is clear.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The most telling poll question of all

This week's CNN poll contained the most telling information about this presidential election that I've seen.

They asked Obama supporters whether their vote was more FOR Obama or AGAINST Romney:

For Obama 76%
Against Romney 23%

Then they asked Romney supporters whether their vote was more FOR Romney or AGAINST Obama.

For Romney 35%
Against Obama 63%

There's an awful lot you can do with those results. For one thing, it could explain the problem Republicans are having with an enthusiasm gap. For another, it tells us why the Romney campaign will be more focused on making this a referendum against Obama rather than presenting a competing vision for the country.

But the most interesting thing I see in those poll results is a pretty clear definition of the size of each party's extremist wing. In other words, the 23% who will be voting against Romney are likely those who have spent the last 3+ years complaining about President Obama but are at least aware that he's better than Romney (the poutragers in other words). That's a pretty small group compared to the 63% of the right wing faction who are propelled by their Obama Derangement Syndrome - even if it means voting for Romney.

I'm proud to be part of that 76% majority who are voting FOR Obama. That's because I'm proud of the job he's done...best President of my lifetime, no doubt about it. I can't wait to see what he'll do with 4 more years!

  

"He's a nice guy, but..."

We've already established that President Obama has an advantage over Mitt Romney when it comes to personal characteristics such as being likable, trustworthy, and in touch with middle class issues. We've also seen how Karl Rove, who tends to go after his opponents strong points, will try to paint Obama as partisan, petty, and untrustworthy.

But some folks are noticing what Mitt Romney is doing with this challenge. Conservative WSJ columnist James Taranto suggests he's embraced a "he's a nice guy, but..." strategy.
Monday night Romney was crisscrossing Ohio, when he spoke about the President and opened up a can of . . . friendliness: "This is a failed presidency," Romney was quoted as saying. "He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head." Though we'll never know if Romney actually believes any part of that unsult, we do know that "Nice guy" has become the candidate's favorite setup when taking a dig at his rivals.
To flesh this out, here are a few examples from Jed Lewison:

In January
We're now on track to retire a guy who's a nice guy but is in over his head. 
In March
He's a nice guy, but he's in over his head. 
And in a slightly different formulation yesterday
Even if you like Barack Obama, we can’t afford Barack Obama
The trend is clearly obvious. But I see several problems with this strategy:

  1. It makes it difficult for Romney to tap into the right wing's Obama Derangement Syndrome in casting the President as a dangerous threat (ie, Kenyan socialist). I'd suggest that heightens his problem with the "enthusiasm gap."
  2. It centers the conversation on President Obama rather than working to build up his own personal attributes. People don't really like Romney right now and this strategy does little to nothing to address that.
  3. Related to the above, as long as Romney continues his gaffes - like the latest CookieGate episode - he's given away the likability arena to President Obama and reinforced that he's mean and insensitive himself. 
I guess you can give Romney points for subtlety - something Republicans haven't typically been known for. But other than that I'd suggest that this strategy will result in one big FAIL.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another crack in the (Republican) wall

Poor Republicans. These days their party seems to be coming apart at the seams. And today we saw another crack in the wall.

Last night I wrote about how Obama ain't playin' when it comes to expecting Republicans to honor the terms of the debt ceiling deal. He promised to veto appropriations bills that didn't adhere to what they agreed to for next year's budget - which would shut down the government in September.

Knowing that the House has already approved Rep. Paul Ryan's budget - which basically trashed what everyone had agreed to last summer in the debt ceiling deal - its time now to hear from Senate Minority Leader McConnell.

At a Thursday hearing to set federal funding levels for next year, 11 of 13 GOP appropriators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted to support capping annual spending at the level the parties agreed to during last summer’s fight over raising the debt limit. House Republicans, by contrast, were forced by their conservative members to lower that cap, in violation of the agreement, and on Wednesday prompted an early veto threat from the White House. The contretemps could easily lead to a government shutdown fight one month before the election — one Senate Republicans would apparently prefer to avoid.

Boehner's response:

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Just kidding...sort of.

The only thing we have yet to learn is what Mitt Romney's position will be. From BooMan:

Mitt Romney is going to have to make a choice. Is the president right that the Republicans made a deal and should keep it? Does he want to defend a government shutdown in September that is a direct result of broken promises? After all, he can set the size of government next year if he's elected. There's no need to have this battle 60 days before the people vote.

If Romney sides with the president, he will sell out the conservatives who have banded together to force John Boehner to go back on the budget deal. And, since Boehner is pretending that he's doing exactly what he wants to do, Romney would be selling out the Speaker, too.

If, on the other hand, Romney sticks with the Republican position, he'll be pushed far out on a limb.

From practically the day that debt ceiling deal was signed I've been saying that it would loom large in this presidential race. But to be honest - I never thought it would get THIS good. So its bringing out the worst in me...the desire to say "I told you so" to all those idiot poutragers who assumed that President Obama got taken to the cleaners. Whaddyathink now?