Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2012

Revelation Must Be Terrible

Over the last few days I've been reminded of the journey I've taken in my life. I've been reminded of how utterly miserable I was - even though on the outside, hardly anyone could tell. I was living a lie and there was something deep inside of me that knew that. But I tried with every ounce of my being to be who it was I thought I was supposed to be. Ultimately I couldn't silence the questions that kept surfacing...telling me that something was wrong. And so I had a moment of terrifying revelation. Here is how poet David Whyte describes it. Revelation must be terrible with no time left to say goodbye. Imagine that moment staring at the still waters with only the brief tremor of your body to say you are leaving everything and everyone you know behind. Being far from home is hard, but you know, at least we are exiled together. When you open your eyes to the world you are on your own for the first time. No one is even interested in saving you now  It

Connect the dots...make your choice

Mitt Romney... Or Barack Obama? And one of the things I've done here, in addition to saying thank you to these firefighters, is to let them know that all of America has their back. One of the things that happens, whether it's a fire here in Colorado, or a tornado in Alabama or Missouri, or a flood or a hurricane in Florida, one of the things that happens here in America is when we see our fellow citizens in trouble and having difficulty, we come together as one American family, as one community... ...this is a good reminder of what makes us Americans. We don't just look out for ourselves; we look out for each other. And one of the things that I told these firefighters is that we can provide them all the resources they need, but only they provide the courage and the discipline to be able to actually fight these fires. And it's important that we appreciate what they do not just when our own communities are struck by disaster. It's important that we remembe

Romney campaign embraces Breitbart/Drudge

In my last post,  I talked about how President Obama's long game is about giving the Republicans the option of either working with him on solving the challenges we face as a country or careening off an extremist cliff. If the folks at  Breitbart  are to be believed (I know, that might be a stretch), Romney has made his choice. They claim to have had an exclusive interview with Zac Moffat and Leonard Alcivar - members of Romney's PR team. Here are some of the things Moffat and Alcivar are reported to have said. Drudge is the single most powerful force in the media today,... I have two windows constantly up on my screen all day long, Twitter and the Drudge Report. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement. Anyone who has been sentient for the last 5-10 years knows that Breitbart's crew and Drudge are the biggest liars and smear merchants in politics today. But i

Frum on Roberts v Scalia

The other day I speculated about how  the SCOTUS ruling on health care reform  may have vindicated President Obama's strategy as much as his policy. Yesterday,  David Frum  posted a rather lengthy comment from a reader who clerked on an appellate court saying basically the same thing. For some background, one of the main things the Court had to decide, if they were to find the mandate unconstitutional, was whether or not it could be "severed" from the rest of the law. What we know from the 4 dissenters on this ruling (Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Alito) is that they were not willing to consider severability. They simply wanted the entire bill tossed out. Frum's reader suggests that was a bridge too far for Roberts. The following is speculation, but plausible, and would be an interesting parallel to the conservative legislative strategy. Any objective legal observer would tell you (and I'm trying to be one here) that the dissent's treatment of the seve

No commentary required 6/29/12

Now that I've at least partially recovered from my obsession about the SCOTUS health care ruling, here are a couple of other stories that caught my eye. I don't know why Peggy Noonan bugs me so much. Write it off to my own particular brand of neurosis. But I do love me a good Noonan smack-down. And  Paul Waldman  delivers. When he began his still-brilliant show a few years ago, Stephen Colbert said, "Anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel t he news at you. " And there's nobody who feels the news quite like Peggy Noonan, America's most unintentionally hilarious columnist. Pretty much every time she writes a column or goes on television, Noonan can be counted on to tell us about a feeling out there in the land. It's seldom a powerful feeling; instead, it's more often a stirring, an inchoate emotion still in the process of crystallizing. It might be a yearning, or an unease, or a doubt or a fear, but it lingers just out of our perception

If SCOTUS says something is constitutional, is it constitutional?

Many on the left are making hay with  Sen. Rand Paul's  comments yesterday about the Supreme Court's ruling on health care reform. The Supreme Court wrongly concluded that Obamacare can stand. But just because a majority of the Supreme Court declares something to be “constitutional” does not make it so. Before we go too far with that, I'd suggest that it's important to think about how his statements differ from those we've heard from the left about Citizens United or Bush v Gore . Or how about going back in history and asking whether - in 1896 - it would have been correct to say that  Plessy v. Ferguson  was constitutional. The truth of the matter is that when the Supreme Court says something is constitutional, in all practicality, it is constitutional. In other words, it becomes applicable law...end of story unless and until they change their minds. That creates a tension because - since the Supreme Court is still made up of 9 imperfect human beings - they

Let's be clear about ACA and taxes

It's clear that the Republicans are going to try to cash in on Chief Justice Robert's ruling that the mandate is constitutional because of Congress' taxing authority. The big line they're using is "See...we told you President Obama would raise your taxes!" To those of us who know about what is in the health care reform bill, this is ridiculous. But just in case you run into people who don't have that information,  here are some facts that might be helpful. If you're part of the 85% of Americans who currently have health insurance...YOUR TAXES WILL NOT GO UP. Of the remaining 15%, 26 million people (or 8% of the population) will be required to either buy insurance or pay a tax penalty (the rest will be exempt due to income, lack of affordable coverage availability, or because they are undocumented immigrants). Of those 26 million, most will not have to pay for insurance themselves. Here's how it breaks down: – 8.1 million will be eligible

Ignore the spin

Jonathan Bernstein  says pretty much  what I said  a few days ago. What happens at the Supreme Court tomorrow is not being overhyped: it really is that important. But a lot of what you may hear tomorrow will be spin from both sides about the political meaning of the outcome — and even worse, reporting and commentary on that spin. Ignore it. Dig deep here for the substance, because it really is more consequential than the shouting matches would lead you to believe. The Court’s decision will matter, substantively, in two ways. First, depending on what the Court says, either millions of people will soon be able to get health insurance, or they won’t. Either insurance companies will essentially be transformed into regulated utilities — no lifetime limits, no recissions, a tough standard for the percentage of premiums that go to benefits — or they won’t. Either the new efforts to limit the costs of Medicare will continue to be implemented, or they won’t... The second way this will m

Let Obama BE Obama

Remember during the 2000 election when everyone wanted Al Gore to loosen up and be less "stiff?" All that nonsense reached its height when the story broke that  Naomi Wolf  was consulting with the campaign on how Gore could express a more "alpha male" personality. The only thing American voters got out of that was to see Gore look like an awkward phony. Fast forward to 2012 and there is no end of people who, every time things look difficult for the Obama campaign, feel free to give their arm chair advice about how he needs to get angry. That advice is just as ridiculous as what Gore received. Let's start with what we know about President Obama's personality. We've watched him now for over 4 years and have both seen how he tends to react and heard him  spell it out for us.  He doesn't have a temper and is best suited to being a "counter-puncher." Before he acts, he  tends to think things through. What we know about human beings is that

"No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now" (updated)

Years ago I attended a 3-day training. On the second day, one of the African American men who was also a participant came dressed in a suit and tie. I'd known this young man for a long time and was aware that it was not how he usually dressed. So while getting some coffee during a break I asked him why. He said that the movie Malcolm X was premiering that day and it was his way of showing respect. I thought of that conversation when I saw this picture of a young boy attending President Obama's speech in Boston yesterday. I imagine that this young man had been "schooled" on the importance of this event...not just of going to hear the President of the United States speak, but the first African American President of the United States. His clothes as well as his expression show that he knows the solemnity of occasion. I also think of the thousands of little black boys and girls all over the country that have been "schooled" about this. Their perceptions of

Romney campaign has gone to dog whistle heaven

I don't agree with the folks  who are suggesting that Romney is waffling on his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today on Arizona's immigration law. When I read the  transcript of the exchange  between his spokesperson and the media, I thought he was very clear. You just have to be able to hear the dog whistles to get it. Here...let me show you. The governor supports the states' rights to craft immigration laws... The governor supports the states' rights to do this. It's a 10th amendment issue."... The governor believes the states have the rights to craft their own immigration laws... The governor supports the right of states, that's all we're going to say on this issue. Again, each state has the right within the Constitution to craft their own immigration laws... Look, again, I¹ll say it again and again and again for you. The governor understands that states have their own right to craft policies to secure their own borders and to

The mandate is constitutional

Immediately following the oral arguments at the Supreme Court on health care reform, here is what  President Obama  said. I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld. That’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency. Bloomberg News  demonstrated that he was right by surveying 21 constitutional law experts at the nations top 12 law schools. The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a law requiring most Americans to have health insurance if the justices follow legal precedent, according to 19 of 21 constitutional law professors who ventured an opinion on the most-anticipated ruling in years... “The precedent makes this a very easy case,” said Christina Whitman, a University of Michigan law professor... “There was certainly a lot of hostile questioning

The other SCOTUS decision

In all the anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling on health care reform, lets not forget that we are also expecting a ruling on Arizona's dreadful immigration law - the one that allows local law enforcement to ask for "your papers" if they think you might be undocumented. If that law is found to be constitutional, the Supreme Court will have given legal cover for racial profiling. That's it in a nutshell. I'd like to introduce you to Lou and his family, some of the people in Arizona who will be affected by this decision. Let me tell you a story about some MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS! My Tata Nacho and Nana Angelita immigrated to this country 92 years ago. Their legacy is profound. Contrary to popular belief these "Mexican Immigrants" were not terrorists, drug dealers or associated with crime. Instead they... worked hard, valued god and family, and passed those values on to all of us. Their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandc

Politicizing SCOTUS

I truly have no idea what the SCOTUS decision on health care reform will be. We all know what Scalia, Thomas and Alito will do. But this decision isn't up to them any more than it will be up to Ginsburg or Sotomayor or Kagan or Breyer. What we're all waiting to find out is which way Justice Kennedy will go and whether or not he'll take Roberts with him. Of course a lot of people are assuming the decision will be a bad one for Democrats. I think that alone is proof of what Jonathan Chait  called our tendency towards despair. If we had an ounce of awareness we'd be out doing what President Obama  did right after the oral arguments...suggesting that its inconceivable that SCOTUS would find this legislation unconstitutional. I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld. That’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not p

Picking a target

Just for fun, lets assume you are a right winger who salivates at the idea of bringing down the Obama administration. Now lets pretend like your party just won the midterm elections - which means you are now Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee...YES!!! Since you've already decided that "this is the most corrupt government in our history," its just a matter of picking a target to go after and watch the house of cards fall. Here are your choices: You really hated that stimulus package that President Obama passed within less than a month of coming into office. And there's that whole TARP thing going to the banks. So perhaps Sec. of Treasury Tim Geithner would be a good target. Nah. But the stimulus included loan money going through Energy Secretary Chu - and there's that whole Solyndra thing to work with. So perhaps we can go that route and make a physicist look like a criminal. Nah. The truth is - what we hated more than ANYTHING Pres

Why It might be important to take our time with the SCOTUS health care reform decision

I mentioned yesterday that I don't do panic. So I'm anxious now as we await the ruling from the Supreme Court on health care reform. But I'm not going into panic mode - either now or when the decision is announced. There are two possible ways this could go that won't require much time to sort through - if they declare the whole law constitutional or throw out the entire thing. Of course the first would be cause for celebration and the latter would be a disaster. At this point I think the least likely option will be to throw out the entire law. The idea of negating items whose constitutionality is not even being questioned would be the height of judicial activism. We all know that's likely what Scalia and Thomas (and possibly Alito) want to do. But I'd guess they'll have a hard time rounding up a majority on the Court to go along with them. If they do, we have much bigger problems than the loss of health care reform. We'd have a Supreme Court run amok

Is silence golden?

I wanted to take a moment to say I'm sorry that posting around here has been a bit sparse over the last few days. I'm not totally sure of the reason for that. But something is troubling me lately and I didn't want to say anything until I understood what it was. This happens to me quite instincts tell me something and it can be days before my head catches up to understand what its all about. The closest I've come to understanding what's up is that it has something to do with the tension many of us are feeling as we await a ruling from the Supreme Court on health care reform. My reluctance to speak started when I read some articles by people at Daily Kos who had trashed President Obama and the Democrats every step of the way through the process of getting ACA passed and are now in full doom-and-gloom mode about it being overturned. On the one hand, they continue with their rants about it being the worst legislation ever while playing on the fears

Friedersdorf, Eric Holder is not your n****r either

On  his first day  as Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee - prior to any testimony or investigations - Rep. Daryl Issa declared the Obama administration "one of the most corrupt" in history. It should come as no surprise that he would concoct a way to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt. After all, he's been working his way towards this goal for almost 2 years, regardless of the facts. But as I said back when I fist started focusing  on the work of AG Holder and the DOJ, its not just the right that has been after him. He's also been the target of many on the left as well. Right on cue comes Conor Friedersdorf with his article titled The Real Reason Eric Holder Should Resign as Attorney General. What Friedersdorf has done is to twist a story that was written up in  USA Today  about a conflict between federal laws regarding felons caught with guns and state sentencing laws in North Carolina to insinuate that DOJ is not doing anything t

The Long and Winding Road

So Paul McCartney turned 70 years old today. He'll forever be that young fresh-faced phenom  in my mind. I was in 4th grade when the British invasion happened and got my first record player that year. The first album that came with it was Please Please Me.  In other words, the Beatles were where it all began as far as I'm concerned. Over at  The Maddow Blog  they're asking readers to name their favorite McCartney song. That's an easy one for me.

Why I'll CONTINUE to have AG Holder's back

Immediately following the 2010 midterms when Republicans gained a majority in the House, I started the page up at the top of this blog titled  DOJ Watch  after writing an article titled  Why I'll have Attorney General Eric Holder's back.  In it I cited a prophetic  New York Times article . When the Obama administration wakes up next month to a divided capital, no cabinet member will be facing a more miserable prospect of oversight hearings and subpoenas than Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr... Mr. Holder is a particularly juicy target because he presides over issues that have served as recurrent fodder for political controversy — including using the criminal justice system for terrorism cases, and federal enforcement of civil rights and immigration laws. Of course that prediction has come true. AG Holder is now facing the possibility of contempt charges from Rep. Issa's committee and the blog The Daily Caller (yes, the same one that is now praising their reporter fo


Listen to your elders!

From the  Latino Rebels  Facebook page.

"Social Change at breakneck speed"

Ron Brownstein  looks at the demographics of Reagan's 1984 landslide election against Walter Mondale to give us some idea of how much the landscape has changed. When Reagan routed Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in 1984, the white working class dominated the electorate. White voters without a four-year college degree cast 61 percent of all ballots that year, and they gave Reagan 66 percent of their votes, the NJ analysis found. White voters with at least a four-year college degree cast an additional 27 percent of the vote, and 62 percent of them went for Reagan. Eighty-one percent of minorities backed Mondale, but they represented just 12 percent of all voters then. By 2008, minorities had more than doubled their vote share to 26 percent. College-educated whites had increased their share to 35 percent. The big losers were whites without a college degree, who dropped from 61 percent of all voters to 39 percent—a decline of more than one-third from their level in 1984. That is

Did Justice Ginsburg just poke Justice Scalia?

Most of you will remember that in oral arguments about the ACA,  Justice Scalia  actually used the ridiculous right-wing trope about being forced to buy broccoli if the Supreme Court finds the health care mandate constitutional. Yesterday,  Justice Ginsburg  didn't give us any scoop on what the final ruling will be. But she did seem to take a bit of a poke at Justice Scalia. Ginsburg noted that one ACA-related question the court must decide is whether the whole law must fall if the individual mandate is unconstitutional — “or may the mandate be chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of it?” She has always reminded me that men should never take for granted the power of small women who are old enough to have been around the block a few times and don't have much to lose. ;-)

Liberals as early adopters

As we watch political conversations about things like women's access to contraception, support for marriage equality and immigration, I find it interesting to put these issues into the context of what Everett Rogers called the diffusion of innovations - "a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures." It is usually accompanied by a graph that looks like this. The blue line represents the rate at which various groups adopt the new idea/technology and the yellow line shows its market share. When it comes to something like GLBT rights, we might think of activists such as  Harvey Milk  as an innovator. Liberals and/or Democrats were the early adopters who joined the cause - even with a minority of support. As the early majority was building, folks like Karl Rove took advantage and - knowing all he needed was 50%+1 - worked to put things like marriage equality on the ballots in several states in order to drive

This is Obama's second administrative move on DREAM Act

In the context of today's announcement, I think its important to note that President Obama took administrative action a year ago that  directed staff to exercise prosecutorial discretion  in the "apprehension, detention and removal" of undocumented people based on some of the same criteria cited in the DREAM Act. What he did today goes beyond that in shielding DREAMers from deportation and giving them the opportunity to apply for work permits.  That's a BFD! "It's just insane," the graduate student at Texas A&M University said. "I've been working on this for six years. It is just overwhelming." Zelaya was electrified by news that the Obama administration would stop deporting illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they met certain requirements. Zelaya came to the United States illegally from Honduras at age 14 to find his mother, who was already in the country, he said. Without the change announced Frid

"The people have the final say"

I know that many pundits are criticizing  President Obama's speech  yesterday as being too long and wonkish. But I see it differently. It was billed as a policy speech on our economy more than a campaign rally speech. He needed to do this to lay out the specifics. And then came this: So, Governor Romney disagrees with my vision. His allies in Congress disagree with my vision. Neither of them will endorse any policy that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay even a nickel more in taxes. It’s the reason we haven’t reached a grand bargain to bring down our deficit -- not with my plan, not with the Bowles-Simpson plan, not with the so-called Gang of Six plan. Despite the fact that taxes are lower than they’ve been in decades, they won’t work with us on any plan that would increase taxes on our wealthiest Americans. It’s the reason a jobs bill that would put 1 million people back to work has been voted down time and time again. It’s the biggest source of gridlock in Washington

Republicans embarrass themselves with Latinos while Obama makes a bold move

The role of Latinos in the 2012 election is going to come into sharp focus over the next week as both President Obama and Mitt Romney speak at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials next Thursday in Orlando. So lets remind ourselves where things stand right now based on a poll from Latino Decisions that I highlighted a few days ago. To set the stage for Mr. Romney on this one, the RNC put up a new website, Only there was one problem. Here's the header they used for the site. Think Progress  nailed them., the Republican National Committee’s new website aimed at Latino voter outreach, uses a stock photograph of Asian children as its banner picture. The stock photo found on Shutterstock is listed with tags including “asia, asian, cheeks, children, cool… interracial, japanese… thailand, together, trendy.” But the words ‘hispanic’ or ‘latino’ are nowhere on the page. No racism there, huh? After all, they don't

I can't even begin to tell you how much I love these pictures

Just hangin' with the Prez.

The man in the arena

The opening line of  Jonathan Capehart's column  yesterday summed the last few days up pretty well. No one does panic like Democrats. Of course he was responding to the "hair on fire" reactions initiated by talk from James Carville and Stan Greenberg  as captured in a column by Karen Tumulty. Is it time for Democrats to panic? That’s what a growing number of party loyalists are wondering, amid a rough couple of weeks in which President Obama and his political operation have been buffeted by bad economic news, their own gaffes and signs that the presumed Republican nominee is gaining strength. My response is to remember the days when Mr. Carville went into a panic criticizing President Obama about his response to the Gulf oil spill.  Two months later, he didn't exactly issue an apology, but was forced to eat a little crow. Any fair assessment would have to conclude that in spite of some people's criticism of the early response, (and by "some people&q

On the cognitive dissonance of being a thinking Republican

I know that a lot of people in this country are scared about the economy and that, when they haven't looked closely at who is doing what in Washington, that can dampen support for Democrats and President Obama. But we have to remember that there are some Republicans who are watching what's going on with their party and not liking it one bit. Of course those who are in office or hope to run for office some day don't have the courage to express this. All they see is what happened to folks like Sen. Lugar and they know they'd better keep their mouths shut. There are, of course, those like Sen. Lugar as well as Bob Bennett and Chuck Hagel who, after leaving office, have spoken out. And there are others who have never held elective office but are seeing danger signs. Today I ran across an article by another one of them,  Michael Stafford , who has been a Republican Party officer in Maryland. I’m a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsi


Just as I was leaving work today, a co-worker suggested that I check out an op-ed written by a teacher that appeared in our local paper today.  Good advice. Grab a kleenex and take a look. And just when, on the last day of school, at the most sacred hour (3 p.m.) I could almost hear the faint whisper of words most revered by a teacher (June, July and August), I was interrupted because ... they did it again. Those same hooligans, who have given me premature gray hair and prompted my survival tactic of never turning my back to a crowd of adolescents, do the unthinkable. They thank me. They say the words that erase all the pain, agony and defeat of the last nine months. Within the blink of an eye, all traces of frustration that Johnny could care less about reading, writing and arithmetic slowly disappear like the fading of the classroom bell. And all because of a word of gratitude ... from a teenager. Who knew that word was even in their vocabulary? I never know where or when, bu

Republicans questioning Romney's strategy

Its becoming clear that Mitt Romney thinks he can win this election by playing on doubt and insecurity while trashing President Obama. That's why he isn't bothering to develop a  message of his own  and is content to simply  become a serial liar when it comes to Obama.  He thinks this is a strategy for success in 2012. But you can tell that the Republican intelligentsia is getting nervous about this approach. Here's a few that have voiced their concerns recently. Bill Kristol Which brings us to Mitt Romney. He’s had a good beginning to his general election campaign. But he could do more, it seems to us, to help mold public sentiment​—​to explain, to quote Lincoln again, “where we are, and whither we are tending,” so as to help us “better judge what to do, and how to do it.” He could do more to put his particular criticisms of the Obama administration in a broader context, and to frame his own proposals in a more comprehensive narrative. After all, Romney has to convin

Numbers vs Doom and Gloomers

A few years ago the non-profit where I work decided to finally buy a building to house our operations after over 30 years of renting office space. It was a HUGE decision because it involved raising $1.4 million - not a terribly big amount for some, but for a small operation like us, it gave me nightmares. As I struggled with the decision, I found myself constantly playing with numbers. I'd run all kinds of different scenarios based on "what if?" in order to see the outcome. My Board President - who often heard the results of this constant number-crunching - started to tease me about it. That's when I realized that part of how I deal with tension is to calm myself with numerical projections. If I can make the numbers work - I can calm down. I say all that to explain why, when I read political pundits  talking about how bad things look for President Obama,  I turn to the numbers to see how incredibly hard they're trying to spin us emotionally rather than report

Just for giggles

More here.

No commentary required 6/11/12

Here are some stories that caught my eye today. How much do you think race played a role in the 2008 election?  Apparently more than most people will admit. Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally. Yes, Mr. Obama also gained some votes because of his race. But in the general election this effect was comparatively minor. The vast majority of voters for whom Mr. Obama’s race was a positive were liberal, habitual voters who would have voted for any Democratic presidential candidate. Increased support and turnout from African-Americans added only about one percentage point to Mr. Obama’s totals. If my findings are correct, race could very well prove decisive against Mr. Obama in 2012. Most modern presidential elections are close. Losing even two percentage points lowers the probability of a cand