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Showing posts from August, 2012

This is how you change the world

Yeah, I'm feeling a little proud about something. So I'm going to tell you about it. One of the young men I work with spends his days from 7 am - 3 pm working in a middle school with students who are chronically suspended for behavior problems. And here's what he does with the rest of his day. Every year our local NBC affiliate picks 11 volunteers in the Twin Cities Metro Area to honor for their commitment to the community. Carlos was one of those 11 this year. Its because of people like Carlos that I have so little patience for those who sit on the sidelines and complain about all that is wrong in the world. Carlos doesn't have time for complaining. He's too busy working his ass off making things better in his little corner of the planet.

More on Eastwood - MHP NAILS it!

OK, I have to add one more word on Eastwood last night. That's because I want to go on record as being 100% with what  Melissa Harris-Perry  wrote about it. Eastwood may have been ignorant of the fact he was joining those who delegitimize Obama's very presence, but he's in that league now. As Jamelle Bouie said last night, an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama was an apt metaphor for how the Romney campaign runs against a Democratic record they've made up out of whole cloth. Watching Eastwood reduce the President to an invented entity in a chair, I couldn't help but wonder what Ralph Ellison would say about all this. The author of the literary classic Invisible Man articulated the metaphor of black invisibility better than anyone ever did previously or since. My best attempt at describing it came in a collegiate column I wrote over 15 years ago: Invisibility is hard to battle because it's not a construction of your mind, but of those who

Sons of famous fathers

Warning: With this one I'm going to pick up my "recovering therapist" hat and put it back on. That could lead to bullsh*t. But who knows? ;-) As I watched some of the attempts to "humanize" Romney last night at the RNC convention, what struck me is that he is likely dealing with the "sons of famous fathers" syndrome. I've spent a bit of time thinking about this one because it is a syndrome that has pretty well defined my own father. Certainly my grandfather was not famous on the level of George Romney. But he left a powerful legacy my father has spent his life trying to live up to. Having watched that play out in my own family, I appreciated the movie "A Few Good Men" on a level that many people did not. Beyond the specifics of the story, it is a tale of the struggles of Daniel Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise) about living in the shadow of a famous father. Adding another layer to the movie is that it was directed by Rob Reiner, son of

My response to the Eastwood debacle

I've been going back and forth in my head for awhile about whether to write about Clint Eastwood's appearance at RNC 2012 last night. I guess its obvious which side won. The truth is, I have traditionally not been a big fan of Eastwood. Most of his movies relied way too much on high levels of testosterone for me to be interested. But with age sometimes comes wisdom. Lately he's seemed to get in touch with his heart a bit. Some of my very favorite movies include ones like "Grand Torino" and "Million Dollar Baby" and "Invictus" - all of which relied on Eastwood's eye for important stories. I'm tempted to try to analyze what goes on in the mind of someone who can bring those stories to life and do what he did last night. When I go there I see a man who - in his younger days - was captured by the "make my day" form of machoism. And then went a little deeper into the very real struggles of life. Last night seems like a venture

Fournier on racism and the Romney campaign

I don't have a lot of time this morning, so I'm just going to point you to the one thing you should read today if you read nothing else. Its Ron Fournier's article titled  Why (and How) Romney is Playing the Race Card. If you've had any questions about how the Romney ads lying about the Obama administration's welfare waivers are racist, he explains it all. And here's his conclusion: Still, Romney and his advisors stand by an ad they know is wrong – or, at the very least, they are carelessly ignoring the facts. That ad is exploiting the worst instincts of white voters – as predicted and substantiated by the Republican Party’s own polling. That leaves one inescapable conclusion: The Romney campaign is either recklessly ignorant of the facts, some of which they possess – or it is lying about why (and how) it is playing the race card. And a Republican Senator  actually admits what this whole mess is about. “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said S

"It's a matter of heart. It's who I am. It's what I care about."

No one has to work at "humanizing" President Obama. I would suggest that's because he knows his heart and has integrity.

Romney (Ann) vs Christie

I basically agree with people who are saying that Gov. Chris Christie's speech last night was his opening salvo in search of the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. That much was clear. But beyond that, it seemed to be a repudiation of the heart of what Ann Romney had just said in the previous speech. Let's take a look at their introductory remarks side-by-side. Here is how  Ann Romney  defined the point she wanted to make. I want to talk not about what divides us, but what holds us together as an American family. I want to talk to you tonight about that one great thing that unites us, that one thing that brings us our greatest joy when times are good, and the deepest solace in our dark hours. Tonight I want to talk to you about love . And then, less than 30 minutes later, here's how Christie summarized his point. The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved a

Spending "tails" and deficits

Fair warning: I'm going to get a bit wonky here, but I think this is an important distinction to make. We all know that one of the Republican's favorite lines about Democrats is that we're the party of big spending. Of course that completely ignores that whenever Republicans have had the chance, they've outspent Democrats by a mile. But there's also a difference in HOW a Democrat like President Obama has spent that often goes unnoticed. I see it all the time because on an infinitely smaller scale, I have to deal with spending and budgets at the nonprofit I run. Most people who deal with organizational budgets talk about two kinds of spending...those with "tails" and those without. Tails refers to whether the spending is ongoing (therefore affecting future budgets) or one-time expenses. For example, the biggest costs for almost any business is salaries. Adding employees is not only a current expense, but obligates spending in future years - so it ha

Another example of why Mitt can't get beyond his like-ability problem

One thing that has been consistent in the polls for months now is that Romney has a serious "like-ability" problem. The latest  ABC/WaPo poll  asked who "seems like the more friendly and likable person." The results: Obama 61% and Romney 27%. So every now and then a candidate lets an interviewer look behind the scenes of their everyday life to combat this kind of problem. Romney did that yesterday and here's what they came up with. Tip for the Romney campaign: Going behind the scenes only reinforces what a dick your candidate is. And it seems like the Romney family is so used to it that they don't even recognize when they reinforce it: "Grandpa's so cute when he's being an asshole."

Its not just buttons and t-shirts

Check out what I bought at the Obama campaign store.

Has Romney's "etch-a-sketch" moment finally arrived?

For the last couple of months, it looked to me like Romney was not going to employ the much-anticipated etch-a-sketch in any attempt to appeal to independent voters. But today I'm wondering whether or not he's possibly employing a two-pronged strategy including not only a full-throttle  Southern Strategy  but also an attempt to limit the damage his campaign has done to his support from women. As an example, take a look at his interview this morning with Fox's Chris Wallace. If you're like me and have trouble getting through 3 minutes of Mitt's mendacity, here are some highlights. Well, first of all, with regards to women's health care, look, I'm the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women and men in my state. They're just talking about it at the federal level... And then with regards to contraceptives, of course, Republicans, and myself in particular, recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There's

The facts on Romney/Ryan attempts to re-start the "death panel" scare

Romney and Ryan are attempting to re-start all the hysteria about "death panels" by suggesting that Obama implemented one for Medicare. They include it in almost every speech/interview. But as an example, in his speech to The Villages in Florida last week, Ryan said that Obamacare will put "15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare, who are required to cut Medicare ... that will lead to denied care for current seniors." They are referring to the  Independent Payment Advisory Board  slated to start next year. For some background, Obamacare includes several attempts to slow the growth of Medicare spending. Targets have been set, and if they aren't met, the IPAB is tasked with finding other ways to control costs. In terms of them being unaccountable, here are the facts: • They’re appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. • They can’t serve more than two six-year terms. • Their recommendations can be rejected by Congress.

When all else fails...there's always the Southern Strategy

We always knew it would come to this.  Back in April 2011, Adam Serwer nailed it. The Republican Party had a choice after 2008. They could continue to rely on a dwindling but still decisive share of the white vote to prevail, or they could try to bring more minorities into the party. While I'm not entirely sure how much of the decision was made by party leaders and how much is merely the unprecedented influence of Fox News, but whether it's pseudo scandals of the past two years, from birtherism to the NBPP [National Black Panther Party] case, the GOP's nationwide rush to ban sharia and institute draconian immigration laws, or characterizing nearly every administration policy as reparations, the conservative fixations of Obama's first term indicate that the GOP will end up relying at least in part on inflaming white racial resentment to close the gap. Today, even the New York Times  is calling it out. Mitt Romney is heading into his nominating convention with his ad

The state of the race: what could possibly go wrong in Tampa?

Oliver Burkeman wrote a hilarious article titled  The Republican National Convention: What could possibly go wrong?  When I first read it, I figured he'd pretty much covered all the bases ;-) Even though it hasn't officially started yet, it looks like  his numero uno "wrong" has already happened. The hurricane scenario: will Hurricane Isaac, most recently reported as a tropical storm gathering strength in the Caribbean, wreak havoc in Tampa?...Hurricanes, Michele Bachmann and Pat Robertson agree, are generally signs of heavenly anger at profligate government spending, or feminists. So what will it mean if God smites Tampa?  Kinda makes you wonder just what God's message is in wanting one less day of the Republican Convention, doesn't it? OK, maybe not. Maybe its just a sign that planning a convention in Florida during hurricane season is not the greatest idea. But Burkman missed some other headwinds that are blowing in Florida. By now you've proba

Fight for Your Mind

This is a long one - but its a GREAT way to jump start a rockin Saturday night...fabulous lyrics and the most kick-ass bass guitar EVA!

My "thank you" to Michael Grunwald

As most of you know by now, Michael Grunwald published a book this month titled  The New New Deal  that has changed the conversation (especially on the left) about the 2009 Recovery Act. In a bit of brazen "pat yourself on the back" theatrics, I feel the urge to point out that  I have been singing the praises of Michael Grunwald on this topic for a while now.  But the truth is that this is a pretty common theme amongst us pragmatic progressives. While the poutragers scream about meaningless shortcomings of the Obama administration - we've often been busy uncovering the successes they ignore. For that reason and several more, I found this discussion on Up w/ Chris  last weekend to be fascinating. Visit for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy If you're able to watch the clip, the first thing you'll hear is Grunwald point out the following facts about the impact of the Recovery Act on poverty: It lifted 7 million people ou

Ruh-Roh, the GOP has riled up the Raging Grannies

Warning: Remember...these are Grannies. And we know from experience that once they put on those funny hats, they just might do/say ANYTHING!

Republican sexism...beyond reproductive rights

I find it interesting that right in the middle of the blow-up about Todd Akin's sexist remarks on rape and abortion, the flagship of conservative publications -  National Review  - ran one of the most sexist articles I've ever read. What do women want? The conventional biological wisdom is that men select mates for fertility, while women select for status — thus the commonness of younger women’s pairing with well-established older men but the rarity of the converse. The Demi Moore–Ashton Kutcher model is an exception — the only 40-year-old woman Jack Nicholson has ever seen naked is Kathy Bates in that horrific hot-tub scene. Age is cruel to women, and subordination is cruel to men. Ellen Kullman is a very pretty woman, but at 56 years of age she probably would not turn a lot of heads in a college bar, and the fact that she is the chairman and CEO of Dupont isn’t going to change that. It’s a good thing Mitt Romney doesn’t hang out in college bars. You want off-the-charts

Republican Women for Obama

My first thought was to add this video to the post below. But its too important. This one is too long to be shared via ads on TV. If its going to get out there - we're going to have to do it. So I suggest we share it with every woman we know and every man in our lives who cares about women (I suspect that would cover most all of them).

No commentary required: video edition 8/24/12

Today I'm finding that its videos more than the written word that are getting my attention. So here are a few that caught my eye. First of all, I think Patrick Murphy - who is challenging Rep. Allen West - has found the perfect way to showcase just how unhinged many Republicans sound these days. Secondly, most of the focus this week on Obama ads was about the one by  Bill Clinton.  But I loved this one by President Obama's sister - Maya. Thirdly, yesterday when I was writing about the  Martin/Malcolm struggle in the age of Obama,  I forgot what a hilarious job Key and Peele have done in putting that on display. Here's their latest. Finally, we've probably past the point where the "Call Me Maybe" covers are interesting. But I bet you'll be glad you watched this one.

Coates on the Martin/Malcolm struggle in the age of Obama

If you have any curiosity about what racism means in the age of Obama, you MUST - and I mean MUST - read Ta-Nehisi Coates' cover story in the latest edition of the  Atlantic titled Fear of a Black President . After reading it myself, I thought that the best thing I could do was link it, tweet it, and share it with my friends. Its a long complex piece and I feared that writing about it would do nothing more than demean the depths to which Coates takes us. But then I watched the video embedded in the article where Atlantic editor Scott Stossel interviewed Coates. The things Stossel chose to talk about seemed to represent the triviality that tends to become so much the focus for many white progressives. I decided that this white girl - who is still in the process of learning about these kinds of things from people like Coates - needed to throw her take-aways from the article out there as an alternative. So here goes... Coates starts out by telling the story of the murder of Tr

Romney/Ryan on access to abortion for rape victims: "trust us"

Its pretty clear that when it comes to access to abortion for women who are the victims of rape/incest, the Romney/Ryan campaign is pulling another "trust us." Here's a timeline of their various positions: We all know that back in 2011,  Rep. Ryan co-authored with Rep. Akin  the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which allowed for taxpayers funds to be used for abortion only in the case of "forcible" (read: "legitimate") rape. A few months later, as Mississippi was preparing to vote on their personhood amendment, Mike Huckabee asked Romney if he would have supported one in Massachusetts. The answer: "Absolutely." After the amendment failed even in deep-red Mississippi,  Mitt had some 'splainin to do. Romney's current position? He supports, per spokeswoman Gail Gitcho, "a Human Life Amendment that overturns Roe vs. Wade and sends the issue back to the states" — which sounds like something short of a feder


"Its OK if you're a Republican" The next time some winger tries to tell you how mortified they are that VP Joe Biden talked about the GOP putting people in chains, ask them what they think about what Sarah Palin said just yesterday. No one bats an eye when Republicans say things like this because THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME. And then they get the vapors when a Democrat gives a little of that back at them.

Republicans: Governing vs Campaigning

I remember that my biggest frustration during the Bush/Cheney years was that they didn't seem to give a shit what the American people thought. Cheney made that clear. We saw that same thing from House Republicans after 2010 when they voted for one bill after another that was deeply unpopular with the American public. That's what they do when they have a majority and they simply obstruct when they're in the minority. Now its time for an election. Proposing things that are unpopular isn't going to cut it. So what do they do?  Be vague on specifics and lie. Isn't it about time voters caught on?

A Test for Voters and Democracy

You know me by now - I like to look at the big picture sometimes rather than get too caught up in the day-to-day details. And so when I look at this election, it strikes me that this - more than any other in our history - is a test for American voters and democracy itself. Without an informed electorate, the very idea of democracy is a sham. That's one of the reasons that public education has been such a priority for so long in this country. And yet we have the Republican Party's nominee running a campaign based on lies about their opposition and simply saying  "trust us"  when it comes to their own policies.  They're not even trying to hide it. Advisers say the campaign has no plans to pivot from its previous view that diving into details during a general-election race would be suicidal. The Romney strategy is simple: Hammer away at Obama for proposing cuts to Medicare and promise, in vague, aspirational ways, to protect the program for future retirees

"Deep poverty" and the failure of welfare reform

It's clear now that the  Romney/Ryan campaign  is going to be relentless in continuing to spread their lies about the waivers the Obama administration made available to state's implementation of welfare. Part of that lie involves pretending that the welfare reform of the 1990's was unequivocally successful. I suppose that if you are a Republican and would rather get rid of welfare all together - there might be some truth to that. But as the article about poverty by Paul Tough  that  I wrote about  the other day explains, welfare reform has been anything BUT successful for many children living in poverty. Tough points out the distinction that is often made between "shallow" poverty and "deep" poverty. The Census Bureau tracks a category that the government calls “deep poverty”; families are said to be in deep poverty if they earn less than 50 percent of the poverty line — which means around $11,000 a year for a family of four, not including food sta

The best offense against the Akin's of the world

No matter what Todd Akin decides to do today about his candidacy, we need to remember that the  Republican Party  supports some of the worst of what he talked about. The Republican Party is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for "a human life amendment" to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform obtained exclusively by CNN late Monday. As pragmatic progressives, we know that its not good enough to rant and rave about these kinds of things. Its up to us to DO something about it. Other than re-electing President Obama, we need to ensure that he has a Congress that will fight for women's rights. And one of the best ways to do that is to elect more progressive and Democratic women to Congress. On November 6th, I will have the distinct pleasure of voting - not only for President Obama - but for two outstanding women... Senator Amy Klobuchar  

Romney/Ryan cuts to senior's health care

You know that lie Romney told about President Obama... Oops, I guess I'll have to be more specific than that. This time I'm talking about the one where he says that Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare when in reality Obamacare extended its solvency for an additional 8 years - all while closing the prescription drug donut hole and adding free preventative services. Yeah, that one. In trying to sell that particular lie, both Romney and Ryan have promised over and over again that they won't touch Medicare for anyone 55 and older and that their plan ensures Medicare's solvency indefinitely into the future. All those lies caught up to Romney's spokesperson Ed Gillespie yesterday when  Chris Wallace  - yeah, the same Chris Wallace who works for Fox News - asked some tough questions. Here's how it all comes down. If Romney repeals ObamaCare - as he's promised to do - that means that Medicare starts to go insolvent in 2016. But Ryan's plan to voucheri

The "trust me" campaign

As we watched Romney role out his campaign, we saw someone who: Had implemented health care mandates as governor have to denounce them as part of Obamacare Had once been pro-choice suddenly become anti-choice Had once supported an assault weapons ban come out against it Had once requested welfare waivers to states now oppose them Had once claimed to be progressive now assume the mantle of being "severely conservative" It goes on and on. Now that same candidate has chosen Paul Ryan (supposedly a "man of principles") as his running mate. And what have we witnessed? Someone who had  voted to increase the national deficit by $6.8 trillion  now claiming to be a deficit hawk Someone who was opposed to the Medicare savings in ObamaCare until he included them in his budget but now is opposed to them again Someone who was against the stimulus bill until his constituents wanted some of the funding, so he wrote letters supporting the jobs that would be create

Akin exposes the misogyny of anti-choice

I'm sure you've seen/heard it by now, but here is what Rep. Todd Akin said yesterday: [F]rom what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child. I appears as though the only thing Akin is re-tracting is the nonsense about the female body being able to shut down a pregnancy that is the result of rape. The rest stands as far as he's concerned. That last sentence is a real whopper though, isn't it? Where the misogyny is laid bare is the fact that nowhere - in his analysis of the situation - does the woman's point of view have any merit. I have my own views about the significant question on when life begins. But regardless of where you stand on that one - that fact is that a

A couple of intelligent alternatives to Greenwald and Smiley

We all know that writers like Glenn Greenwald have been going on endlessly for the last few years critiquing how President Obama is conducting his war on al Qaeda. Most notably, he finds  the use of drones  to be a priori proof of the case he is trying to make. As I've said before,  I find Greenwald's arguments on this to be over-simplified and lacking in much depth. That's why today I was interested in an article by Peter Beaumont titled Are drones any more immoral than other weapons of war?  (as an aside, the article appeared in the Guardian , where Greenwald will be writing as of tomorrow - make of that what you will). In it Beaumont begins to tackle some of the more complex questions raised by the use of drones. Rather than quote bits of it, I'll simply suggest you go read the whole thing. THIS is the kind of conversation liberals should be having. Similarly, people like Tavis Smiley have been brutal in their critiques about President Obama not talking enough ab

Have we reached "peak idiocy" on the right yet? (updated)

Who knew you could outflank Michelle Bachman on the idiot front? That feat was just accomplished by Todd Akin who is running for the United States Senate against Claire McCaskill. I'm going to try to hang on to some sanity by taming my desire to punch this ignoramus's lights out and remember that every time he does something idiotic like this, it might help us keep one more Senate seat in the Democrats column. But there are a whole lot of people that ought to be doing a face palm of shame today for supporting this guy. UPDATE: Akin has released a statement  saying that he misspoke.  Its not clear what he is retracting, but I have a message for him about this: I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. Dear Mr. Akin, The next time you're pregnant as a result of being r

Time to re-think what it means to be a "tough guy"

Anyone who reads here regularly knows that one of my very favorite writers is Ta-Nehisi Coates. I'll read anything he has to say about race, culture, and politics. But he blew it in his latest column in the  New York Times.  Sure, he starts off great...talking about how Republican bullies have changed their tune from calling President Obama weak in 2008 to casting him as the big divisive meanie this time around. Among the ranks of bullies, the only fair fight is the one that ends with them laughing and kicking sand. And so, no longer able to portray Obama as weak, the authors of Willie Horton, swift-boating and modern day poll-taxing have been reduced to other tactics — among them wildly yelping, “Please, Mr. President, nothing to the face.” But then he totally blows it by doing something that drives this woman crazy...he equates violence with strength and Obama to Cheney in that department. Obama’s tough guy bona fides were largely built on the expansive bombing campaign he

"We've come too far to turn back now"

I don't know about you, but spending too much time wrapped up in all the lies and distortions coming from the other side can occasionally get me down. It's important to take them on, but it's also important to remember what we're fighting FOR - not just focus on what we're against. Today the Obama campaign gave us a shot in the arm that we should revel in and soak up to its fullest so that we energize ourselves to keep on going. THANKS...I needed that!

Fool me once...

The famous line that Bush mangled so terribly is "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." How can we not think about that one when yet another Republican presidential ticket comes along and tries to sell us on the idea that they're deficit hawks? First of all, lets review the historical record. Here's a look at how much our federal debt has increased under the last 5 presidents. Looks to me like red is the perfect choice of color to represent Republicans...they have been the masters of red ink. But now along come Romney and Ryan promising that this time they really, really, really mean it! They are the ONLY ones who can be counted on to reduce the deficit. Since Romney is the  most inexperienced man to run for the presidency in generations , we don't have much of a record to review as far as he's concerned. But  the Center for American Progress  did take a look at Paul Ryan's record. They found that from 2001-2011 Ryan voted to a

Some thoughts for the left on hope, cynicism, imagination and power

Today one of the regular commenters here Bill tweeted me a link to  this article by Clay Claiborne.  It certainly got the tired old synapses in my brain going. I wanted to write something coherent about it. But the synapses haven't settled down enough for that. So I'm just going to expose you to a bit of my stream of consciousness. First, here's Claiborne: For someone sitting on the very edge of survival, hope is extremely important. Often it is only hope, sometimes even false hope, that allows him to make it to the next day... Cynicism is deadly for someone on the edge of survival. Even in the darkest night, he cannot afford to be cynical. That cynicism just might push him over the edge. Cynicism is a privilege. When practiced by those in a position to do it well, cynicism allows them to criticize the oppressor and sympathize with the oppressed without ever having to move out of their comfort zone. In fact, one of the main objects of this practice of cynicism is to ma

The punch behind Obama's new Medicare ad "Facts"

You may have already seen the Obama campaign's latest ad about Medicare titled "Facts." What struck me immediately when I watched it is that it relied almost completely on quotes from the AARP. Why is that important? To understand the punch you have to remember that a little over a year ago,  House Republicans thought it would be a good idea to attack AARP  - the organization that represents nearly 40 million seniors. Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned. The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby's executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law's $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medi