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Showing posts from February, 2012

It's less about religion and more about class

A few months ago Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin of the Center for American Progress published a paper titled "The Path to 270: Demographics Versus Economics in the 2012 Election" which garnered a lot of commentary in the media. The premise was that, while the changing demographics in the country favor the Democrats, there is a split in the economics between white professionals and white working class voters. The later have traditionally been called "Reagan Democrats." In the last election, this is where President Obama received his weakest support. Coming into the 2012 election, much was made of Mitt Romney's Mormonism as a potential problem for him in the Republican primaries. And the truth is, that might be affecting some of those who continue to look for a not-Romney candidate. But based on what we've seen so far, the divide seems to be much more about class than it is about religion. Here's Jonathan Cohn's take on last night's Michigan prima

ABC's Bob Woodruff will interview President Obama tonight

The President and First Lady will host a formal dinner tonight honoring Iraq veterans. On Wednesday, February 29, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will host a dinner at the White House to honor our Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and to honor their families. This dinner --- an expression of the nation's gratitude for the achievements and enormous sacrifices of the brave Americans who served in the Iraq War and of the families who supported them --- will include men and women in uniform from all ranks, services, states and backgrounds, representative of the many thousands of Americans who served in Iraq. Just prior to the dinner, ABC's Bob Woodruff will interview both President Obama and some of the honorees. The reason this is important is that on January 29, 2006, just days after he had been named to succeed Peter Jennings as co-anchor of ABC News, Woodruff was seriously injured by in IED in Iraq. When he was able to

Last Chance Party

No matter which Republican wins in Michigan and Arizona today, the truth is - as Ezra Klein notes - they're still left with three bad options. For awhile now I have been suggesting that the white male heterosexual patriarchy is in its death throes - and the Republican Party seems content to join in its demise. This week Jonathan Chait wrote an article saying basically the same thing. I'm going to suggest that its a must-read. Here's how he describes the situation: The Republican Party had increasingly found itself confined to white voters, especially those lacking a college degree and rural whites who, as Obama awkwardly put it in 2008, tend to “cling to guns or religion.” Meanwhile, the Democrats had ­increased their standing among whites with graduate degrees, particularly the growing share of secular whites, and remained dominant among racial minorities... Obama’s victory carried out the blueprint. Campaign reporters cast the election as a triumph of Obama’s i

Brush with the Blues

Jeff Beck from Red White & Blues at the White House

Obama's progressive accomplishments as part of a pragmatic long game

For quite a while now I've been saying that if you want to understand President Obama, you have to look at the long game. Its possible that some of his accomplishments will still be coming to fruition long after he's actually left office. In the end, the historians of the future might have the best vantage point. That's not how we've typically viewed politics in the modern era. With the 24/7 news cycle, too much political punditry gets caught up in the clash of the moment and so that's where we tend to focus. So when we talk about President Obama's accomplishments, we naturally tend to look at the past...things like the stimulus bill, the current implementation of ACA, Lilly Ledbetter, ending DADT, etc. Those are all major "wins" for this administration. But what happens if we look forward a bit at what is developing? In other words, what might President Obama's accomplishments look like in the future? As I wrote about yesterday, its not only h

"The end of insurance here."

For awhile now I've been following what Rick Unger has been saying about the ACA triggering the end of for-profit health insurance companies as a business model. This week Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna, agreed with him. It’s not often that you hear the leader of a Fortune 100 company publicly acknowledge the imminent demise of his venerable, profitable business model. Yet, speaking at the HIMSS12 Conference in Las Vegas, Aetna CEO, Chairman and President Mark Bertolini, said a reckoning for the traditional health insurance model was at hand. “The system doesn’t work, it’s broke today” Bertolini told attendees. “The end of insurance companies, the way we’ve run the business in the past, is here.” Bertolini said an amalgamation of regulatory, demographic and economic factors were driving this change. The Affordable Care Act in particular, with its ban on medical underwriting, has made the traditional health insurance business model untenable in the long term, he said. Nonet

Uncommon courage in unlikely places

I find the story of Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker to be extremely inspiring. Out lesbian Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker touted her refusal to conduct marriage ceremonies in her courtroom on Tuesday night. “I have the power, of course, to perform marriage ceremonies,” Parker said. “I don’t.”... Parker is the first LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County and is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state’s history. As such, Parker said she takes into account the importance of her position to make members of the LGBT community feel comfortable and equal in her courtroom by “going out of my way to do things that other people might not do because they are not who I am.”... “I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said. “So I usually will offer them something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage

New Guggenheim film about President Obama

Four years ago David Guggenheim produced this short film titled "A Mother's Promise." Now we learn that the Obama campaign has hired Guggenheim again. With Hollywood gathering this weekend for the 84th Academy Awards, President Barack Obama has recruited Oscar-winning documentary director Davis Guggenheim to again produce a short film for his campaign. Obama’s re-election staff in Chicago spent $162,834 on the film last month, according to the January Federal Election Commission filing. Currently in post-production, the film focuses on the president’s first three years in office, according to a campaign official. The film will be less than 30 minutes long and released in weeks, though the exact date hasn’t been decided, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The campaign is still considering how it will be used, the official said.

Beach Books (updated)

One of the fun things about having my own blog is that I get to write about whatever I want to. What that means is that when I get bored with politics (as I am right now), I can write about whatever it is that's on my mind. In a few weeks I'm going to be taking a trip to the beach where I'll get to spend entire days doing nothing much more than staring at what is represented in the picture up above. That's a little slice of heaven as far as I'm concerned. In between being mesmerized by that, I'll likely fill my time with reading. So yesterday I did some book browsing and bought a few things to take along with me. Here's what I came up with: The Healing by Jonathan Odell (yeah, I bought this one last week but I'm saving it to savor) Great House by Nicole Krauss (if you've never read her first book - The History of Love - please do so NOW) Restoration by Olaf Olafsson The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into

Why is Santorum so afraid of young people getting a college education?

Here's what Santorum said this week: On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.” He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring that universities that receive public funds have “intellectual diversity” on campus. I'd like to address that one from my own personal experience. Santorum might put me in that "62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment and leave without it." But there are 2 catches: First of all, I still considered myself a christian when I graduated from college, but the seeds of doubt had been sown. And secondly, I actually went to a private christian fundamentalist c

Questions no one seems to be asking

Listening to a Republican presidential debate, you'd think our country was on a slide towards not only economic but social destruction. Too often folks on the left seem to want to join them in this malaise. But the truth is, its not just the economy that is slowly improving. There are signs that some of the social issues that have plagued us for at least decades are also improving. But outside "elite" academic circles, no one seems to be noticing...or better yet, asking why. Here are a couple of examples: On an issue that came up in the debates last week, you'd never know that teen pregnancy is actually on the decline. A new study, titled “U.S. Teen Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity” published by the Guttmacher Institute, has found teen pregnancy to be down among all racial groups. Teen pregnancies are at their lowest rates in 40 years, according to the latest numbers dating 2008 which is when the latest stat

The wheels of justice grind on. Anyone noticing?

A little less than 2 years ago most of the country was consumed with anger at BP and other companies that were complicit in the Gulf oil spill. Much of that anger was turned on President Obama. I remember at the time being confused about just exactly what it was folks wanted him to do...swim down into the depths of the ocean and personally plug the spill? Of course not. I suspect they just wanted him to erupt in self-righteous anger too. The truth is, even if he had blown his top about it all (which was never going to happen), it would have accomplished nothing other than perhaps make some people feel better. But now that everyone has gotten over that particular outrage and moved on through several others, I doubt many people will pay attention to the fact that on Monday, the federal trial to hold BP and other companies accountable will commence in New Orleans. My question is whether or not the people of this country have the staying power to really care about accountability. Or d

You're Still the One

DOD Goes Green - and why that's important

I've grown increasingly frustrated that so few of the people writing about the dangers of climate change and our need to develop renewable energy sources are noticing what I think its the biggest story in this arena...the greening of our military. So this morning I did a little looking around the internet in order to provide you with some idea of what's going on and why this is so important. Science is definitely NOT my forte. Stick with me - I couldn't get too technical about this even if I wanted to. Last fall leaders from the 4 branches of our military wrote an op-ed about why the development of alternative energy sources is important for our national security. They also highlighted some of their recent accomplishments. There are some who say now is not the time to invest in clean energy, given our current economic woes. Some say the well-publicized failure of solar company Solyndra is proof that clean energy doesn't work and that government support shouldn'

Two things the Republicans can't talk about

Did anyone else watch the GOP debate last night in Arizona? I did. And what strikes me as significant is that there are 2 things the Republicans can't talk about. First of all, there was one word that was obviously missing from the entire Other than a passing reference from Gingrich in the beginning about balancing the budget by increasing employment (with not a word about how he'd do that), it never came up. We all know that lately the economy has been improving. But we still have an 8.3% unemployment problem. In other words, a significant portion of Americans are either un or under employed. But the Republican candidates for President didn't have one thing to say about that last night. The second thing Republicans can't talk about is the real Obama. Yesterday, E.J. Dionne summarized that beautifully. They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but o

Blues in da house!

I know that by now all of you have probably seen this video. But it won't hurt to take a look one more time will it? I watched the whole event on the White House web site last night. If you missed it, please know that this was but an over-the-top ending to an amazing evening of music. It was not only a blast to watch, it was also a real pleasure to see both President Obama and Michelle genuinely enjoying themselves. Here's one taste of the brilliance that has been made available on youtube...Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Gary Clark, Jr. and Jeff Beck doing "Five Long Years."

Republican Platform: Screw Fairness (updated)

In his speech at Osawatomie, Kansas President Obama introduced the word "fairness" into the political conversation. Now, fortunately, that’s not a future that we have to accept, because there’s another view about how we build a strong middle class in this country -- a view that’s truer to our history, a vision that’s been embraced in the past by people of both parties for more than 200 years. ...It is a view that says in America we are greater together -- when everyone engages in fair play and everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share. The word might have been new but the concept was not. As an example, he'd given a speech back in April 2011 about the country's fiscal situation just after Rep. Ryan had released his budget proposal which basically eliminated Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system. Here's what the President said about that: It’s a vision that says America can’t afford to keep the promise we’ve made to

Speak loudly with silence

This weekend I talked about the destructive nature of silence. But we all know that silence can also be golden. Over the weekend, we saw the power of silence when 1,100 people showed up at the Virginia capital to silently protest the vote to take place on requiring women who seek an abortion to undergo an invasive ultrasound. From the organizers Facebook page: The Capitol ground rules say that we cannot assemble, hold signs, chant, yell or protest. We think silence in the face of this struggle and their unconstitutional rules presents the strongest response to their assault on women. Please come out and stand up for our rights and for the rights of all women in VA to choose the best reproductive route for themselves. These people are used to signs, yelling, chanting etc. It is not new. They are not used to silently being stared at and having to look us in the eye. It gives us the power. In honor of their silence, I'll let pictures tell the rest of their story.

Love's in Need of Love Today

Timeless truth from Stevie that was never more needed than today.

Its not all Mitt's fault

Its deja vu all over again, isn't it? As some new insurgent takes a lead in the polls for the Republican nomination, everyone talks about the lack of depth in the field of candidates (they're talking about you Mitt) and starts looking for alternatives. As that pattern continues in the primaries, we hear increasing talk about a brokered convention where some star (Daniels or Christie...really?) will rise from the ashes to save the party. Is anyone else noticing that this is an on-going search for a personality when the Republicans really should be looking for ideas? Before we pin this problem all on the lack-luster flip-flopping campaign Romney has run, lets think about how mind-bogglingly boring Daniels was in his state of the union response. Or how Christie manages to offend one group or another any time he opens his mouth. Just imagine how long it would take for the establishment to dump them when these realities started catching up to them in the polls. The truth is

On finding nexus

One of the things that concerns me as we watch the Republicans revert to their old culture wars against women, people of color, gays & lesbians, poor people, unions, etc. is that we will all divide again into our camps to defend our root causes and forget the bigger picture that binds us. Other than fear, the right's most effective weapon against us is division. What will keep us united is to always remember the big picture of what's happening. As I've been saying, keeping an eye on the forest means recognizing that the old white male heterosexual patriarchy is dying and the Republican Party is in chaos. What we can expect is that the old beast is going to strike out at anything it perceives as a threat and therefore the cause of its demise. Along those lines, a few years ago Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican wrote a series of posts titled Let's Have Nexus which I found to be brilliant. You can feel him striving to find what the dictionary defines as nexus:

On silence and invisibility

I'm going to do something today that perhaps I shouldn't...write about something that I'm still in the process of figuring out. But its what's on my mind these days and perhaps some folks who read this can contribute to my understanding. Let me start with a story that is actually embarrassing for me. For most of the 1960's I lived in a town in East Texas of about 40,000. I don't know what the racial breakdown of the town was at the time, but what I do remember is that there were two high schools - one for black students and one for white. Of course I attended the white school. All of this was after Brown vs Board of Education but just before our schools were forced to integrate. So I never knew or talked to any black kids in town. Just a few years ago I pulled out my old high school year book for some reason and started looking through it. I was shocked to see how many black students actually attended the so-called "white school." It wasn't n

Keeping an eye on the forest

We're living in an historic moment. And yet, as is always the case, when you are in the middle of tectonic cultural/political shifts - it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees. I wrote earlier this week about the imminent death of the white male heterosexual patriarchy. When I say "imminent," I don't mean in will happen today, this week, this month, or even this year. But it is underway. As it does so, we can expect all the ugliness it harbors to surface as a last gasp effort to defeat the inevitable. The only question remaining is whether the Republican Party will go down with it. At the moment, that appears to be their strategy. I think its important for us to keep the reality of this big picture front and center as we watch not only the 2012 election play out - but as we witness the next few years of our political process. Never lose sight of the fact that we're witnessing a Republican Party in complete disarray - no matter how hard they tr

When I dare to be powerful...

Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992)

My challenge to the MSM

Here's Rick Santorum today: At a campaign appearance here on Saturday morning, Mr. Santorum described the “president’s agenda” as being “not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your job.” “ It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology . But no less a theology,” Mr. Santorum said, to wide applause. ( Emphasis mine ) Can we hold up on the false equivalency about negativity in campaigns and the politics of personal destruction until we hear President Obama question Mr. Santorum's religious faith? Because that is definitely NOT going to happen. Letting folks like Santorum get away with crap like this on the grounds that "everybody does it" is unconscionable.

Black women making history

This morning I watched Melissa Harris-Perry host her own news show on cable television. And yes, what a glorious way to celebrate the focus on Black women during African American History Month. But there's more! When it comes to the historic 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama, who will ever forget the contribution of Edith Childs? She joined up when hardly anyone was paying attention...but was fired up and ready to go. She's still at it. Now, exactly four years after South Carolina chose Barack Obama as its Democratic nominee for President, Mrs. Childs is still as fervent as ever in her support of President Obama and her belief in what he stands for. “I was with him, and I’m still with him,” she told the South Carolina team during a recent visit. She hasn’t forgotten one minute of the history-making election she was a part of, and she reflects on trips to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration and visits to the White House with pride and passion. “It was wor

Melissa Harris-Perry debuts on MSNBC tomorrow

Melissa Harris-Perry's show on MSNBC debuts tomorrow morning at 10:00 am ET. The show also has a new blog which I've added to the list on the left. Here's what Melissa says about what she hopes to accomplish with her new show: We will have discussions across the partisan aisle and ideological divide. We will quiet the noise of the echo chambers so that we can hear the many different voices that are bouncing around in there. We plan to cross lines of race, gender, generation and belief in order to push ourselves to new understandings. We will ask people to leave the talking points at home so that we can really talk to each other -- even if it is hard to do. I’m hoping that we can actually bring you some stories that may not have dominated the news cycle and others you’ve been hearing about all week -- but not like this. I've pretty much abandoned watching newtwork and cable news shows. But you can bet that will change tomorrow morning!

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly"

Last week I posted Michelle Obama's video about Black History month and its dedication this year to African American women. It is within that context that I note the powerful emerging voice of Viola Davis. As she has made her way around the Oscar circuit Viola Davis has impressed the Bagger – and everyone else who has heard her – by speaking eloquently about subjects that many shy away from: race, class and sexism, in Hollywood and in the real world. Even as she campaigns hard in the best actress race, Ms. Davis continues to speak her mind. I've been paying attention and have to say that I too am impressed. Here she is this week on CBS This Morning. I was struck by how no matter what typically shallow inane question they threw at her - Viola seemed to be able to find some depth. For example, when asked about her mother's reaction to the film, Davis says she hasn't seen it because its too painful. She goes on to talk about the life of her grandmother (gave birth

Contraception issue brings out some truly ugly misogyny (updated)

I guess that when you fuel arguments like the one we're engaged in now about contraception, it should not be a surprise that it can bring really ugly misogyny out from under a rock. But I must admit to feeling a punch in the gut when I read this headline this morning at the Daily Caller : What are women for? Of course I had to go take a look - at least on the off chance that perhaps the author was doing some metaphysical look at the purpose of humankind. But of course I knew better given the nature of the site on which its posted. So yes, the author - James Poulos - is really asking the question about the utility of women. Of course, the next question that comes to any non-misogynist's mind is "utility to whom?" For the author who is obviously a man, the answer to that question must be a given because it never comes up. The result is that underlying the whole thing is that the question of women's utility to men must be an important question that we should all

More baby steps towards ending the indefinite war

Yesterday Afghani President Hamid Karzai said that his government had begun talks with the Taliban and the US. At this point, there doesn't appear to have been any actual negotiations, but contacts between the three entities have begun. ...the mere possibility that the Taliban would entertain continuing direct talks with the Afghan government is significant. In the past, the Taliban have described Mr. Karzai as a “puppet leader” and the Afghan government as a “puppet government.” Since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, they have insisted they are the rightful Afghan government. In the last year, they have insisted on face-to-face talks with the Americans rather than with the Afghan government. If they continue to talk directly to the Afghan government, it would suggest an admission that the Afghan government is legitimate. It also begins to get key players needed to start discussions in the same room, but the obstacles to real breakthroughs remain formidable. Public Radio Inte

A sure sign the economy is improving

I expect that many of you are like me - we celebrate but hold our breath a bit when the good economic news continues to roll in. Sure unemployment is down and auto-makers are back in business. But there's still that voice that wonders if the other shoe is going to drop. Indicators that you might not have been following when it comes to our economy are also suggesting that things are improving. For example, why else would Fox and Friends have to be peddling conspiracy theories? On "Fox & Friends" this morning, Brian Kilmeade noted that good economic news matters a great deal when it comes to the president's fortunes, but only "if you believe these numbers." A minute later, Gretchen Carlson added, "Unemployment has gone down, more jobs have been created. Now, you can argue about how those numbers, some people say they've been fabricated." That level of cognitive dissonance must be painful. And its not likely to be fabricated. I

I'm anti-war

These days we hear that there is a war on women, a war on workers, a war on contraception, a war on science, a war on christmas, a war on school choice, a war on religion and on and on... Last summer at Netroots Nation I watched Kali Joy Gray (a Daily Kos front-pager) interview White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. Her snarky juvenile approach to him and the administration turned me off completely. But during part of the conversation, she made great hay out of berating him because the President hasn't acknowledged that there's a "war on women." You see, it doesn't matter what the President does to actually support women unless he uses those words. It all makes me wonder what's behind the need to hear them. In the case of what Gray was doing at NN, its all about a loyalty test to demonstrate whether one is a true enough ally. The way to do that is to commit oneself verbally to the battle to defeat the enemy on a particular chosen cause. Folks w

For those who have his back...literally (updated)

It was the night of the 2008 Iowa caucuses when many African Americans in this country woke up to the fact that this skinny guy from Illinois with the funny name just might have a shot at winning the Democratic nomination for president. I remember because I was hanging out on several blogs written by African Americans at the time. There was a moment of awareness - and then the reaction that showed me once again that there is a rift between black and white consciousness in this country. Because what came immediately and profoundly after that for them was fear. As an outsider watching it happen, it seemed to resemble the kind of PTSD soldiers experience after being in combat. The emotional script that came to the surface at that moment was the fact that when a black man enters white political consciousness, an assassin's bullet is not far behind. Think Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Update: From the comments, nellcote posted the article I

I love watching eyes open up to see the long game!

The blinders that keep us from seeing something new can be extremely powerful. The fact that "the way we've always done it" doesn't work anymore is often not enough motivation to open our eyes to different possibilities. Its much more comfortable for us to judge the present based on the yardsticks of the past. But watching those scales come off the eyes of an observer can be a beautiful and uplifting thing. I truly enjoyed reading about it from Georgie Anne Geyer. I suspect you will too. While the Republican presidential candidates are trying their best to grind the story of the Obama administration into the dust, something largely unnoted has been happening behind the scenes. President Obama and his team have been quietly building a new narrative and structure for America that should outlast his years in office. Until the last few months, it has been possible to wonder if Barack Obama and his stirring admonition of "Yes, we can" were failing. There s

The white male heterosexual patriarchy's death throes

I am struck today by how it used to be that Republicans would lie voters into thinking they were on the side of "everyman(woman)" only to fleece them when they got into office. I'm not saying that's totally gone - all one has to do is take a look at Romney's rather tortured attempt to explain himself to Michigan voters in order to see those efforts continue. But based on what we've seen so far in this campaign, I can't help but envision a cadre of heterosexual white men sitting in some smoke-filled room trying to decide which group of American voters to piss off next. Lets be honest, Republicans have never made much of an attempt to woo the gay and lesbian vote. As a matter of fact, they've done everything they can to fight the so-called "gay agenda." But in a few days one of their darlings of the future, Governor Chris Christie, has promised to veto a gay marriage bill passed by both houses of the New Jersey legislature. Gays and les