Archive for: February, 2009

How Barack Obama Defeated Rush Limbaugh

Feb 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

Rush Limbaugh gave what he called his first national address to the CPAC conference, and a funny thing happened, on three separate occasions, he felt the need to proclaim that he loves America, and doesn’t want to see it fail, so it appears that even the mighty Rush is afraid of Obama’s popularity.

Limbaugh said, “We love the people of this country. And we want this to be the greatest country it can be, but we do understand, as people created and endowed by our creator, we’re all individuals. We resist the effort to group us. We resist the effort to make us feel that we’re all the same, that we’re no different than anybody else. We’re all different. There are no two things or people in this world who are created in a way that they end up with equal outcomes. That’s up to them. They are created equal, given the chance.”

Later on Rush backtracked even more and said that he wants Obama and the Democrats to fail, but the nation to succeed, “For those of you just tuning in on the Fox News Channel or C-SPAN, I’m Rush Limbaugh and I want everyone in this room and every one of you around the country to succeed. I want anyone who believes in life, liberty, pursuit of happiness to succeed. And I want any force, any person, any element of an overarching big government that would stop your success, I want that organization, that element or that person to fail. I want you to succeed.” However, if Obama fails, doesn’t the nation also fail?

The conservative yakker expanded on wanting Obama to fail, “This notion that I want the President to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we’ve got. That’s nothing more than common sense and to not be able to say it, why in the world do I want what we just described, rampant government growth indebtedness, wealth that’s not even being created yet that is being spent, what is in this? What possibly is in this that anybody of us want to succeed? Did the Democrats want the war on Iraq to fail!” This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats never wanted the pointless war in Iraq to begin with, but they never hoped for more soldiers to die, however, seem to want the Republicans want the economy to collapse.

The fact that Limbaugh felt compelled to defend his patriotism, and tried to make rooting for economic failure an act of patriotism shows that even Rush Limbaugh fears Barack Obama. Limbaugh did a firm backtrack from his statements on his radio show. Limbaugh will continue to bluster and live in his fantasy world everyday on the radio, but the fact that explained his patriotism on national television is rather stunning. Rush like all the other conservative radio hosts talks big, until it might hurt business. The rest of Limbaugh’s address was the usual mumbo jumbo. Democrats want to grow the government, liberals hate America, and Obama offers no hope, blah, blah, blah.

All of this stuff plays well to a conservative audience, but it sounds delusional after a week where Obama gave a well received speech that boosted his approval rating to well over twice that of the Republicans. Rush Limbaugh is a fraud, who when push comes to shove will never take a real stand, but will always back away, while telling his audience what they want to hear out of the other side of his mouth.

The Full Text of Rush Limbaugh’s CPAC Speech

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Rick Santorum: Conservatives Absolutely Hope Obama Fails

Feb 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

In an interview with ThinkProgress today at CPAC former US Sen. Rick Santorum fully embraced Rush Limbaugh’s idea that conservatives are hoping that Obama fails. Except Santorum went even further, he said absolutely that conservatives should hope that Obama fails.

Here is the video:

Does this mean that Conservatives are rooting against the success of America? Does this make them unpatriotic? If these were normal times, under any other political circumstances, this would just be politics, but there is something cruel and cold about rooting for policies to fail while people are losing their jobs and homes. No one expects, nor should, conservatives be gung-ho for Obama, but to hope for failure, when it would impact millions of people in such a terrible way is disgraceful.

ThinkProgress also has a transcript of the exchange, so it impossible for Santorum or others to claim that he was misquoted. Too many Republicans still have a zero sum game mindset about politics. Their idea is to be the party of no, and hope that they can shut down Obama’s agenda before it ever gets started. I also find it funny that the CPAC speakers are going out of their way to link George W. Bush and Barack Obama. They talk about the Bush-Obama spending bill. It is as if they are disavowing any responsibility for the past 8 years.

It was a great day for the state of Pennsylvania when Bob Casey defeated Rick Santorum, whose was an embarrassment to the state he represented. I think the key word in that video is hope. Republicans don’t have a plan, so they are forced to only sit around and hope that people keep losing their jobs. They have to hope that more families, which they seem to care so much about in election years, are destroyed by economic distress. They have to hope for homelessness. Santorum can hope for these things while the rest of us will hope that the Republicans never return to power.

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Veterans for Peace: Obama’s Iraq Policy is not a Withdrawal

Feb 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

President Obama’s plan to leave 50,000 troops in Iraq has come under criticism from the nation’s leading anti-war veteran’s organization, Veterans for Peace. The group said that Obama’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan will put the final nail in the coffin of the American economy.

“I really believe President Obama wants to do good things for the country,” said VFP president, Mike Ferner, “but if he continues on this course he’s charted, his hopes are guaranteed to founder on the shoals of war. This way lies disaster. For all our sakes, I hope he reconsiders. Besides the suffering and death caused by prolonging these wars, America simply can no longer afford the cost of empire. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what these policies do. Their purpose is to control an entire region of the world and its resources. If you look at history, it’s clear the long term outlook for empires is not very pleasant.”

Ferner called Obama’s policies nothing more than sleight of hand, “Barack Obama became president in part because millions of voters were sick of these wars and wanted them stopped, period. Saying that only ‘non-combat’ troops will be left after 19 months is just sleight of hand so we can keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq and send thousands more to Afghanistan.” Much of the most stinging criticism that Obama has faced so far has not been from the right. It is the left that has been disappointed by Obama’s performance.

I respectfully disagree with the Veterans for Peace on this issue. By all accounts, Iraq still isn’t able to handle its own training of soldiers and police. I think having non-combat troops there is an improvement, and while I share their concerns that 50,000 troops will stay there forever, I think that it is an unrealistic goal to go from 142,000 to 0 troops in Iraq. It is critical that everyone who wants the troops out of Iraq keeps the pressure on the Obama administration, to make sure that all the troops come home.

It would be easy for those on the left to be content with the fact that over 2/3 of the troops are out of Iraq, but unless all of the troops come out, Iraq will become the latest global U.S. military global outpost. Usually, once American troops go in, they never completely come out. American troops don’t belong in Iraq, but unless Democrats hold the Obama administration accountable, the Pentagon will turn Iraq into the Middle Eastern outpost that they have always dreamed of.

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Republicans Go After Obama’s Budget

Feb 28 2009 Published by under Featured News

In this week’s Republican radio address Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) kept up the strategy of anti-government spending rhetoric, seemingly oblivious to his and his party’s own out of control spending habits.

Here is the video:

Burr attacked Obama’s budget, “This week, the president submitted to Congress the single largest increase in federal spending in the history of the United States, while driving the deficit to levels that were once thought impossible. If we just look at what our debt spending will cost us in interest payments alone, we are talking about 4 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, more than a billion dollars of interest payments every day. Think of that 4 trillion as a finance charge on your credit card bill – you have to pay, but you get nothing for it in return. This finance charge obligates more than $52,000 for every family in America over the same 10 year period.”

The joke is that through 2006, the Republicans increased federal spending 35.8%, which is more than even LBJ spent during the Great Society. In five years, the Republicans’ No Child Left Behind increased federal education spending 79.9%. The true hypocrisy here is that Burr is the senator who introduced the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind in 2007. Burr also supported all of Bush’s budgets and voted for the TARP last fall.

Burr is a shining example of why the Republican new found small government rhetoric can’t be taken seriously. Here is a senator who once voted for a balanced budget amendment, but then spent the Bush years spending tax payer money like it was going out of style. If a Republican president had proposed more spending during a recession, Burr would be lining up to vote for it, but since Obama is a Democrat it is all wrong.

The Republican Party is so far out of step with voters that they spent when they should have been saving, and at a time when people are looking to the government for help, they want to save when people want them to spend. The GOP keeps digging itself in deeper, by offering tired ideological opposition, instead of bipartisan practical solutions. The GOP is trying to recapture its soul, but they sold it long ago.

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Obama: No Long Term Troops in Afghanistan

Feb 27 2009 Published by under Featured News

President Barack Obama did an interview which will air PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight where he made an interesting bit of news. He said that the U.S. has no interest in leaving long term troops in Afghanistan.

Lehrer asked Obama if there is definition of victory in Afghanistan, and Obama replied, “I think there are achievable goals in Afghanistan, and the achievable goal is to make sure it’s not a safe haven for terrorists, to make sure that the Afghan people are able to determine their own fate. One of the things that I think we have to communicate in Afghanistan is that we have no interest or aspiration to be there over the long term. There’s a long history, as you know, in Afghanistan of rebuffing what is seen as an occupying force, and we have to be mindful of that history as we think about our strategy.”

This is big news become some have been wondering not only what Obama’s intentions were in Afghanistan, but if Afghanistan could become his presidency’s version of Iraq. One of the many mistakes that other nation’s have made in Afghanistan is that they tried to stay too long, and the local population turned against what they viewed as an occupying force. While the Obama administration would love nothing more than to get rid of the Taliban completely, that is a task that is easier said than done.

Right now, the Karzai government doesn’t have control over most of the country. The top goal of the U.S. there should be to make sure that al-Qaeda can never function there again, but this goes hand in hand with stabilizing the situation to allow the government to get control, so that the people of the nation can hopefully pick their own path for the future. Unlike Bush, Obama appears to have clear and reasonable goals for Afghanistan. However, I still that if Obama serves two terms, his goal should be to get all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Full Text of Obama on PBS Newshour

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Poll: Sarah Palin, GOP Women, and the Hillary Effect

Feb 27 2009 Published by under Featured News

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll released today finds that among Republicans thinking about the 2012 election Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney are the clear favorites. More interesting is the fact that there seems to be a Hillary effect in action when it comes to Palin and Republican women. Could Palin 2012 suffer the same fate as Clinton 2008?

The poll numbers break down as 29% for Palin, 26% for Huckabee, 21% for Romney, and 9% for Bobby Jindal. This poll was taken before Jindal laid his bomb heard around the world after Obama’s speech Tuesday night, so his slight support isn’t a reflection of his performance this week.

What is interesting is the impact of what I have dubbed the Hillary Effect, which is the mobilization of women, especially older women, who might not have normally been active in the primary. Older women were the bedrock of Hillary Clinton’s base of primary support. In many cases these women hadn’t been motivated by either Gore or Kerry. The early evidence from the CNN poll is that this same thing could happen to the GOP in 2012.

Palin, Huckabee, and Romney poll about evenly with men. The difference between them is that Palin has a 10 and 12 point lead over Huckabee and Romney respectively with Republican women. Republican women participated in the 2008 primary at about a 40% rate. It is likely that if Palin can keep her momentum, she will reenergize Republican women for the primary in the much the same way that Hillary Clinton did for Democratic women in 2008. The problem for Palin is that this alone probably won’t be enough to power her to the nomination, as women make up a smaller percentage of the GOP than they do in the Democratic Party.

Pallin’s path to the nomination would be a coalition of social conservatives, and women supporters. Palin is a big government Republican, like George W. Bush, so the fiscal conservatives are likely to support Romney. Huckabee’s base is with social conservatives, and that is what Palin would have to cut into. The other problem for the GOP is that in swing states like Colorado the power base is shifting. A post 2008 analysis done by the dear departed Rocky Mountain News found that the top voting bloc in the state has swung from Republican men to Democratic women.

Perhaps, no single group of voters despises Sarah Palin as much as Democratic women do. Palin like Hillary Clinton with voters in the other party as well as Independents. Palin may be able to motivate Republican women, but with such limited appeal, she would be looking at being routed by Barack Obama in the general election. The Republican, who could give Obama the most problems in 2012, if the economy doesn’t improve, is Mitt Romney. It might pain Hillary Clinton supporters to read this, but there as some definite parallels between Clinton 2008 and Palin 2012, which could lead them both to suffer the same fate.

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Kucinich: Obama Iraq Troop Reduction Is Good, But Not Enough

Feb 26 2009 Published by under Featured News

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) was on MSNBC’s Hardball tonight where he called President Obama’s plan to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, “a good start.” He also said that 50,000 troops in Iraq are still too many.

Here is the video:


Kucinich was on the show to talk about the Obama administration’s reversal of the policy that prohibited photos of the coffins of dead soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Kucinich did bring up a great point on the policy change. He said, “Well it’s the families made the sacrifice too, and they should be in a position of making the decision…There is a larger question here which is, it’s too bad that we’re still there and bodies keep coming back. I think that we owe it to the families to be able to decide whether or not they feel it’s appropriate to let the nation know that they lost a loved one first of all, and I think it would also be good for the media to put the pictures out of the soldier with the families when they were alive.”

As far as troop draw down in Iraq is concerned, Kucinich said, “I think he is going in the right direction if that is going to be announced, and I would that eventually we would end the occupation and bring the troops home.” Chris Matthews asked him if he accepted the troop reduction, “I don’t think that’s enough. I think you can not leave 50,000 troops there and call it a withdrawal, but it is a step in the right direction, and I think that ought to be supported.”

As usual, Rep. Kucinich is right on the money. I think the proper number of troops to be left in Iraq is zero, especially if the administration is going to send more troops to Afghanistan. Unlike some on the left, I see a difference between the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The biggest difference is that there really are 9/11 terrorists in Afghanistan. The international community has a chance to maybe build a stable Afghanistan, and make sure that it is never a home base for terrorists again. Like Kucinich, I view the Iraq announcement as a positive development, but the long term goal should be to have no troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The 2012 Palin/Jindal Battle Erupts Over Volcanoes

Feb 26 2009 Published by under Featured News

It seems that Gov. Bobby Jindal raised the ire of many Alaskans when he called $140 million in federal spending for volcano monitoring wasteful spending. However, Jindal’s 2012 GOP rival Sarah Palin has sent out signals that she disagrees.

Here is what Jindal said in his Tuesday night GOP response to Obama’s speech, “$140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.” This comment royally ticked off many Alaskans, who are currently looking at the possible eruption of Mt. Redoubt.

The Anchorage Daily News has a great story today about just how angry Alaska residents are over Jindal’s comments. Of course, the Alaskan in chief is one Sarah Palin who is almost certainly a presidential candidate in 2012. According to ADN, Palin’s press secretary said about Jindal’s remarks, “Of course Alaskans want to know if a volcano is going to blow.”

Some are wondering why Jindal singled out volcano monitoring, but I think the answer is fairly simple, Jindal was taking a veiled shot at Palin’s conservative credentials. If there would not have been this outcry over his remarks, I could see Jindal campaigning on the fact that Palin, “aided in the waste of federal dollars.” I suspect that Palin is going to publicly hold her fire for a little while, but I would expect her to say something refuting Jindal’s remarks soon.
What people need to understand is that Bobby Jindal’s remarks on Tuesday night were all about positioning himself for 2012.

The God &Country blog has a post up comparing Palin’s heart versus Jindal’s intellect. Jindal was trying to get a little too cute by taking an indirect shot at Palin and her state. He is an intelligent man, who is up on his current events. He knew what he was doing. What he didn’t foresee was the backlash from this.

The base of the GOP tends to vote with their heart during the primary season. The reason why 2008 was so tough for them was because there wasn’t a candidate that they felt emotionally attached to. Like her or not, a segment of the Republican Party loves Sarah Palin, and I think she could very well win the Republican nomination in 2012 based on personality and charisma. Bobby Jindal is going after the heads of Republicans, while Palin is pulling at their heart strings. This dynamic could make for a very interesting Republican primary.

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Expert: Facebook TOS Uproar Will Lead to Changes in Online and Offline Contracts

Feb 26 2009 Published by under Featured News

One of the founders of the plain English and simplification of contracts movement, Alan Siegel argued today that the Internet uproar over Facebook’s decision to change their terms of service will impact future online and offline contracts. I think it will definitely change online contracts, but I doubt it will change traditional paper contracts.

Mr. Siegel said, “At a time when there is a call for transparency and honesty in all sectors of society and business — online and offline — clearly Facebook showed an initial lack of sensitivity to the interests of their 175 million users when they changed the terms of the privacy provisions in their terms and conditions contract. While they put a note on the company blog that said the company ‘simplified and clarified a lot of information that applies to you,’ users were not asked to agree to the new terms or even alerted by e-mail about this rather significant change. Facebook merely added this line to their terms: ‘Your continued use of the Facebook Service after any such changes constitutes your acceptance of the new Terms. This generated such a strong negative reaction from Facebook users that Facebook announced they were reinstituting the terms of the original agreement.”

Siegel concludes that Facebook’s about face will lead other companies to change the way that they communicate with their users/customers, “This about-face clearly demonstrates the power of the Internet that will force companies to communicate with clarity in their contracts with their customers. Companies will no longer be able to hide behind impenetrable contracts that provide unfair protections or conditions. It looks like the Internet and its legion of bloggers will be the stimulus for an upheaval in legal communications that is long overdue. This Facebook uproar will transform online — and offline — contracts. The days of consumers blindly signing whatever is placed before them are clearly over.”

I think that Mr. Siegel is overly optimistic. The Facebook case was unique because of the number of users that Facebook has and the change to their TOS that amounted to them taking over ownership of what you post on your account, but even at its peak this wasn’t some sort of wide sweeping revolution. The Facebook group against the change only has 130,000 members which is less than one tenth of one percent of their users. What I view this outcome as is a victory for the power of the Internet community. Maybe only 1 percent users were vocal about the change, but they did a fantastic job spreading the word.

Why Facebook changed their minds was that this became a mainstream media story. When networks like CNN picked up the story, Facebook had to back down or face a public backlash, and a PR black eye, personally I use Facebook, but I send links to friend, or the occasional message, but I don’t post anything that I consider of value there. The Facebook saga should be a lesson to all social media sites that what the users give, they can also take away.

I think there needs to be a new law about how and in what manner sites can notify their members of changes to the TOS. Honest companies will send an email explaining the change. However, more dubious under the radar practices are too common. Companies post a note in their blog as Facebook did, or send a vague late night email. Users should have the right to be notified in a clear and timely manner about TOS changes. In the end, bad TOS changes will catch up to any social media site, because there will always be a group of users that are paying attention, and there are plenty of other options for consumers.

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Chris Matthews on His Oh God Remark

Feb 25 2009 Published by under Featured News

Tonight on his show Hardball Chris Matthews clarified what he meant last night when an open mic caught him whispering oh God as Bobby Jindal came out to deliver the Republican response to President Obama’s speech last night.

Here is the clip:

According to the NYT Caucus Blog, Matthews expanded on what he found so distasteful last night, “That scene in the Louisiana governor’s mansion — Governor Bobby Jindal walking from somewhere in the back of this narrow hall, this winding staircase looming there, the odd antebellum look of the scene — some people heard my reaction at the time. What was the message in all this? Was this some mimicking of a president walking along the state floor to East Room? And at the same time the Republicans are so far from Washington they can’t be blamed for anything?”

It think that Jindal was trying to mimic the walk that the president usually makes from the East Room of the White House to the podium when they are about to make an important statement. Although as you can see from the clip, this ended up looking more amateurish than presidential, the lighting was bad, and Jindal’s walk to the podium reminded me more of how a car salesman approaches a browser on the lot than a potential president.

If there is one thing that Chris Matthews hates it is poor political presentation, and there is no doubt that is what he was trying to express here. He was also making a mountain out of a molehill in traditional Matthews fashion. It wasn’t the antebellum scene or any of the other b.s. that he wants to throw out there. It only took a few seconds to see that Jindal was way over matched. What Jindal went through last night reminded me of some of the painful staging that John McCain endured during last year’s campaign. My question is, when did Republicans lose their flare for staging, because for well over a year now the GOP events have looked like public access television.

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