Archive for the 'White House' category

West Wing Weekly Round-Up Dec 31, 2010

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

Image by Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office

West Wing Weekly Round-Up

From the West Wing, we have the mailbag edition of the West Wing Week, President Obama used the recess to appointed six nominees to fill key administration posts that have been left vacant for an extended period of time, signed some bills and made the world a bit safer. Not bad for being on vacation, Mr President.

First, in this special edition of West Wing Week, we look back over the last year, watch the President sign a law getting those loud TV ads under control, and find out the answers to a couple burning questions (pay attention if you have student loans) from the mailbag:

And I should add that even though your President is in Hawaii, he’s getting loads done. On December 29, 2010 he signed: The Omnibus Trade Act of 2010 which extends the Andean Trade Preference Act Trade Adjustment Assistance, To require the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to fully insure Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts which provides for permanent Federal deposit insurance coverage for Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts, the interest earned on which is used by States to support legal aid for low-income individuals and the Helping Heroes Keep Their Homes Act which extends enhanced protections for service members relating to mortgages and mortgage foreclosures through December 31, 2012.

Here’s the President’s statement on Removal of HEU from Ukraine:

“I congratulate President Yanukovych on the recent shipment of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine for secure disposal in Russia, which advances a top priority for my administration and for global security. This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials, as President Yanukovych and I and 45 other world leaders pledged to do this April at the Nuclear Security Summit. The low enriched uranium and nuclear safety equipment provided to Ukraine in connection with this shipment will support Ukraine’s development of safe and secure nuclear energy. These actions represent continued Ukrainian leadership in making sure that nuclear weapons never fall into the hands of a terrorist, and working toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Pete Souza, Chief Official White House Photographer and Director of the White House Photography Office, has his year in pictures up; beautiful photography. A must see.

Well done, Mr President. Happy New Year everyone.

4 responses so far

Republican Support for Sarah Palin Plunging in Polls

Dec 28 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party, White House

Sarah Palin fares badly in latest poll

Happy New Year, America. Your country is recovering its sanity.

Yes, it’s true. After a rough two years of Palinitis stained by winning Politifacts’ Lie of Year award among other ignoble distinctions, it appears that even Republicans are mournfully unclenching their stubborn fists from around Palin’s star bursts. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19 and it turns out that support for Ms Palin is nose-diving among Republicans. She has, in fact, lost 18% of her support since 2008 among Republicans. Sigh. Our country may be spared a civil war in 2012. Finally, the Republicans are doing something for America!

CNN Political Ticker reports:

“Among liberal Democrats, 85 percent say they want to see the party re-nominate Obama in 2012,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Among moderate Democrats, his support is almost that high.”

In the battle for the GOP presidential nomination, the survey suggests Palin may have some work to do if she throws her hat in the ring. Only 49 percent of Republicans say that they are likely to support Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008 for the Republican nomination in 2012.

“That’s a huge 18-point drop since December of 2008, when two-thirds of GOPers said they were likely to support Palin. It also puts her well behind potential rivals Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, and a bit behind Newt Gingrich as well,” adds Holland.”

Republicans’ dreams that Ronnie had come back to them in a skirt are dying a tedious, painful death, during which we are all being subjected to Palin’s media blitz until even the sight of her makes us weary. Palin refused to do the work necessary to be taken seriously and cashed in on her fame to make money and in doing so, she mismanaged her star power if she has political ambitions.

Oh, that’s right. I left out that OTHER part of the poll. President Obama enjoys a comfy 85% support from liberal Democrats and 78% of Democrats questioned in the poll want the President to run in 2012. Only 19% would like another nominee to replace the President.

Oh, dear. I’m glad I’m not anywhere near Wasilla right now. I’m afraid I can hear tin cans hitting a refrigerator from my kitchen window. And here the Conservatives for Palin were working so hard on their talking points about how Ms Palin had held elected office longer than President Obama (if you discounted his Presidency and included the City Council for Palin), because we all know how well the talking point of “executive experience” went over in 2008, why not try it again, even after the President has been…well…like the President for two years. Yes, this makes sense.

If you have any Republican friends with a Palin 2012 bumper sticker on their car, remember to be kind today. Dreams of the faithful die hard and Palin was hailed as the God chosen candidate for the evangelical right, so this has to hurt. I just can’t imagine how God can be so wrong, can you?

However, just because Republicans don’t like her doesn’t mean she can’t utilize the Tea Party to her advantage in the primaries and Ms Palin is known for working best with strong opposition from within her own Party, so there may be some hope to cling to here for the die hard Palin fans. I do hope someone assists them in their talking points, though, as re-litigating 2008 is not bound to be effective with any but the Kool-Aid drinkers.

Happy New Year, America. Looks like you might have managed to “take your country back” after all.

39 responses so far

The President and First Lady’s Christmas Message: Community Matters

Dec 25 2010 Published by under Featured News, White House

President Obama and First Lady MIchelle Obama Christmas 2010

The President and First Lady Focus on Community this Christmas

President Obama and the First Lady wish Americans a Merry Christmas and remind them to participate in their community, whether it’s thinking of the less fortunate this season, or encouraging everyone to support our troops and their families. This year’s theme for the White House Christmas was “simple gifts”.

The President reminds Americans that we are celebrating the power of peace, love and redemption and that most importantly, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Redemption might be an appropriate theme for historians as they record these first two years of President Obama’s leadership, and it’s worth a moment of gratitude this Christmas Day. We aren’t where we want to be yet, but we’ve made tremendous strides toward restoring America to a nation that cares for its disadvantaged, is more of a cooperative force on the national stage than the cowboy bully we were just a few years ago, and returning to a nation that shows her pride by investing back into herself with infrastructure, further enabling education for all not just the rich, healthcare reform, and the repeal of DADT — to name just a few paradigm shifting changes.

This President has his eye on America as a community of well intentioned citizens, who while they may not agree all of the time, do believe in the importance of Government as a force for good and can come together to get things done for the betterment of their country and fellow Americans.

Watch the President and First Lady’s Christmas message here:

From the White House transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, everybody. Michelle and I just wanted to take a moment today to send greetings from our family to yours……

THE FIRST LADY:
This month, more than 100,000 Americans have passed through these halls. And the idea behind this year’s theme, “Simple Gifts,” is that the greatest blessings of all are the ones that don’t cost a thing – the comfort of spending time with loved ones…the freedoms we enjoy as Americans… and the joy we feel upon giving something of ourselves.

So in this time of family, friends, and good cheer; let’s also be sure to look out for those who are less fortunate, who’ve hit a run of bad luck, or who are hungry and alone this holiday season.

THE PRESIDENT: Because this is the season when we celebrate the simplest yet most profound gift of all: the birth of a child who devoted his life to a message of peace, love, and redemption. A message that says no matter who we are, we are called to love one another – we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, our separate stories in this big and busy world are really one.

Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays – especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas…..So we’re encouraging Americans to ask what you can do to support our troops and their families in this holiday season. For some ideas on how to get started, just visit Serve.gov.
………………
THE FIRST LADY: If you live near a base, you can reach out through your local school or church. If you don’t, you can volunteer with organizations that support military families. And anybody can send a care package or pre-paid calling card to the front lines, or give what’s sometimes the most important gift of all: simply saying “thank you.”

THE PRESIDENT: America’s brave servicemen and women represent a small fraction of our population. But they and the families who await their safe return carry far more than their fair share of the burden. They’ve done everything they’ve been asked to do. They’ve been everything we’ve asked them to be. And even as we speak, many are fighting halfway around the globe – in hopes that someday, our children and grandchildren won’t have to.

The importance of the fabric of community weaves its way through the threads of President Obama’s speeches as well as his approach to governing. His notions of America as a community that encourages self-reliance but does not turn its back on the disadvantaged as well as America as a part of the larger world community that participates with respect rather than wielding its power while disregarding other world actors’ needs are an important shift.

Though it’s easy to focus on all of the change we want still to see, today is a good day for reflection and gratitude, as well as a chance to wish the President and all Americans a New Year resplendent with Americans who are willing to work with the President within their communities to bring about the change they seek.

I know, but it’s Christmas. A girl can dream.

12 responses so far

START Treaty Overcomes Two Republican Amendments

President Obama and Congressional Democrats hope to ratify the START Treaty Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ) negotiated between the U.S. and Russia back in April, before the 111th Congress breaks for the final time. The 112th Congress with its diminished Democratic majority takes their seats in January; their 58-42 majority was reduced to 53-47 in November.

We have addressed this matter frequently here at PoliticusUSA, and with good reason. Republican opponents have made clear their intention to obstruct passage of the Treaty and in this at least, if not their economic policies, they have been true to their word. I wrote originally about this Republican gamesmanship back on November 17. And as Sarah Jones reported on December 4, and both she and Jason Easley reported again on December 16, the Republicans are guilty of holding our national security hostage.

RMuse reported on December 17 about the Republican attempt to use Christmas as an excuse to ignore important matters of national security. They could apparently impeach President Clinton for Jesus’ birthday but not ratify a treaty. This holiday, they tell us, is all about world peace; but apparently not world peace when it’s sponsored by a Democrat.

The many excuses offered read like a Letterman Top 10 list, and are as unconvincing:

1)      We don’t have time because there is too much else to do

2)      We don’t have time because it’s Baby Jesus’ birthday

3)      We don’t have time because it’s too complex for us to understand

4)      We’ll lose our ability to set up a missile defense system

5)      We want tax cuts for the rich first

6)      We have to modernize our nuclear weapons complex first

The Democrats and the White House have taken note of these many absurd excuses and have been pushing all the buttons they can, and have several cogent arguments to offer:

Wednesday, the Senate voted 66-32 to open debate on the treaty. At that time, nine Republicans voted with 55 Democrats and two independents, including Richard Lugar of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain. Those 66 votes are one short of what would be needed to ratify the treaty.

The Republicans countered with an attempt to amend the terms of the treaty. An amendment by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., failed on Saturday on a 59-37 vote.

The Russians have made clear that any amendment means the treaty is dead. We’d have to go back to start on START, and negotiate an entirely new treaty, which suits Republican purposes well.

On Sunday, that attempt failed on a 32-60 vote. The amendment was put forward by Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. It would have changed the preamble to the treaty to address the “inter-relationship between non-strategic and strategic offensive arms.

Republicans continue to complain that the preamble would inhibit U.S. development of a missile defense system.

Democrats hope to vote on ratification on Tuesday. Republicans have their hackles up, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to CNN that “Members are uneasy about it, don’t feel thoroughly familiar with it, and I think we would have been a lot better off to take our time. Rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us. … I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

Of course, a vote on Tuesday would not be rushing it. The Senators have had all year to look at the treaty. It is not as if it was negotiated yesterday.

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, isn’t having any of that. He has pointed out that there had already been several delays to give Kyl and the other Republicans an opportunity to have their concerns addressed. “We kept the door open until we finally are at a point where obviously we had to fish or cut bait.”.

Despite Republican opposition by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz, Fox News reports that “Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a supporter of the treaty, said several Republicans will support ratification and he believes the votes are there.”

Senator Evan Bayh missed the vote but according to an aide would provide the needed 67th vote, offering some hope that Republican efforts will be for naught.

It goes not only against the spirit of Reagan, who proposed the original START Treaty, but the advice of the military (who, after all, ought to be the experts in this area) to obstruct passage of this very important treaty and which makes clear that continued Republican opposition is simply a continuation of their two-year-old effort to block everything President Obama tries to do.

At least Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has given up his attempt to have the document read on the floor of the Senate, a process which would take some fifteen hours given the treaty’s 17 pages plus 339 pages of protocol and annexes, a sign that perhaps he realizes he can’t stop the process at this point as he turns his wrath on the $1.1 trillion government spending bill, should it come up. There are always new battles to fight, after all, and new excuses to invent. Life’s busy for a Republican senator these days.

8 responses so far

President Obama’s Tax Compromise Passed by Congress

President Obama and Republican Leaders

On Thursday, the unthinkable (to many progressives) happened: Congress passed the tax cuts, a compromise deal which includes an $801 billion package of tax cuts and $57 billion for extended unemployment benefits. The bill will extend the Bush tax cuts for two years (all of the tax cuts) and provide for a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.The extends for two years all of the Bush-era tax rates and provides a one-year payroll tax cut for most American workers.

As FOX News relates,

Workers’ Social Security taxes would be cut by nearly a third, going from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, for 2011. A worker making $50,000 in wages would save $1,000; one making $100,000 would save $2,000.

Many progressives see this as a betrayal. The Republicans, rightly or wrongly, have been accused of holding unemployment benefits and taxes for the Middle Class hostage in exchange for helping out their rich friends. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for example, leveled the accusation that Democrats were forced “to pay a king’s ransom in order to help the middle class.” Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) said it was “craziness” and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) said “This legislation creates too few jobs and too much debt.”

The final vote?  277 to 14 with nearly identical numbers of Republicans and Democrats voting “aye”: 139 Democrats and 138 Republicans. The Senate had previously approved the package 81 to 19 on Wednesday.

There was an attempt to change an estate-tax provision in the bill (one that Obama had previously agreed to in his negotiations with the Republicans) but even after that failed, 139 Democrats voted for it as opposed to 112 against.

Two years, of course, will bring us right to 2012, when the future of the tax cuts will become more important than ever in the midst of a presidential election. This is not the last we will hear of the matter by any means. Some Republicans would like to see the tax cuts made permanent. Since tax cuts for the rich demonstrably do not create jobs, this position will be a tough sell for Republicans, particularly if the groundswell of opposition swings the other way at the end of the next two years, and it is the Republicans who find themselves under attack for perceived failings.

It is obvious to many people that the economic stability of our nation is at stake and that this deal is not going to fix those problems. It is no more than a finger in the dyke.

For now, the New York Times reports that administration officials say President Obama will sign the bill into law today.

This moment marks both a way forward and signals a lack of progress. Cooperation and compromise are essential facets of government in a modern liberal Democracy like ours and the willingness of Republicans to compromise at last should take center stage over what is seen as President Obama’s capitulation to Republican demands. The President has governed as a centrist and he did what a responsible president would do. Rather than stand on principle and make people suffer, he made a deal.

Rather like the framers of the Constitution back in 1787, none of whom got everything out of that deal they wanted and the New York Times tells us “The White House and Republicans hailed the deal as a rare bipartisan achievement and a prototype for future hard-bargained compromises in the new era of divided government.”

FOX News called it “a remarkable show of bipartisanship.” Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), called it “a bipartisan moment of clarity.”

And so it is.

Progressives, like their Republican opponents, seem of late to have forgotten that lesson. To stand on ideological purity and refuse compromise while the country crumbles around you is not an admirable thing, however they frame it. Government needs to continue to govern. In a sense, a politician hasn’t the luxury of principles, and that includes the president.

Ideological purity is for dictatorships.

For the first time in two years we have seen government function as it should. And if nobody got everything they wanted out of it, so be it. That’s how it works. That is how it has always worked. Sometimes one side gets more, sometimes the other. As House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said, “There probably is nobody on this floor who likes this bill. The judgment is, is it better than doing nothing? Some of the business groups believe it will help. I hope they’re right.”

In this case, most Republican opposition centered around the creation of additional federal debt, but most of them voted for it anyway. Of course, Republicans did not get everything they wanted either.

Political reality suddenly meant something again to the arrogant GOP, as Eric Cantor (R-VA) was forced to remind his colleagues:

“We could try to hold out an pass a different tax bill, but there is no reason to believe the Senate would pass it or the president would sign it if this fight spills into next year.”

It remains to be seen if Democrats and Republicans can find other ways to work together, other areas in which compromise is a possibility, such as repeal of DADT and the DREAM Act, an amnesty program for illegal aliens who came to the United States as minors. There are things the Republicans will want and things the Democrats will want and the current balance of power does not grant to either the ability to pass that legislation without regard for the opinions of the other.

If anything at all is to get done for the next two years, this will not be the only compromise. In the end, both the achievement of bipartisanship in the face of ideological purity and the continuing problems (and its root causes) must be underscored. Fingers in dykes won’t make the flood on the other side of the wall go away. That deluge remains, waiting to sweep us all away. The question is, can our two major political parties stop their bickering long enough to fix it?

4 responses so far

The 2010 Beck Apocalypse: A Year of Lies in Review

Glenn Beck Sells the Apocalypse

With the year drawing to a close, Media Matters remembered some of Glenn Beck’s low points for 2010. They’re pretty low; after all, Beck was Media Matters’ “Misinformer of the Year” for 2009. Unfortunately, he seemed more than equal to the task:

  • Asserting that “violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan.” He accused the Left of “setting up another Oklahoma City” and claimed that progressives support “armed insurrection.”
  • Claiming that “We are headed towards a thugocracy.” Glenn Beck has likened the Obama administration and progressives to Mussolini, Stalin, Nazis, Al Qaeda, and vampires. He insists that a cabal of radicals who hate the country is operating out of the White House.
  • Equating unions for TSA employees to a “private army” for Obama. Beck also said unions have “raped” police and fire fighters, and that violence is a “self-fulfilling prophecy” of labor unions.
  • Describing progressive policies as murderous, apocalyptic and conspiratorial. Beck called a proposed food safety bill a “perfect storm” that was about “control and eventually starvation.” He called net neutrality a “hostile takeover” and said health care reform amounted to “pulling the plug” on seniors.

They started me thinking, these absurdist claims.

  • Violence is in the rhetoric of the right-wing, in Tea Party and the Republican Party. It is notably absent in left-wing rhetoric. It is the conservatives who are pro-gun, pro-secession, armed, and forming militia units and talking about asserting Second Amendment rights. The allusion to Oklahoma City is especially ironical since that terrorist act was the work of a right-wing bomber, not a progressive.
  • Thugocracy, if this charge can be taken seriously at all, thugocracy came about when Bush won in 2001, immediately setting about plundering not only the United States but Iraq when it was conquered. Halliburton is only the tip of the iceberg. The real threat at this point is from theocracy, which Republicans, Tea Partiers and Beck all seem to support. Of course, this theocracy will support a right-wing thugocracy as a matter of course, especially if in the control of Grifterella herself, Sarah Palin.
  • The TSA reference is fascinating, since it is Republicans who want to outsource the TSA’s job to some private firm, which would make it a private army in the same way Blackwater became a private army for President Bush. But they won’t just peek through you clothes, they will rape you, and you won’t have a right to complain. We’ve seen how Republican-sponsored private security firms behave.
  • Progressive policies are murderous, apocalyptic and conspiratorial? Yes, Glenn, and your Christian fundamentalism is not at all apocalyptic, or don’t you share the beliefs of your close friend Sarah Palin? Fundamentalist Christianity is all about the apocalypse. And murderous? It was a Republican administration that invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and brutalized and tortured others in violation of International Law and the Constitution. And conspiratorial? Really? It’s the corporations who want to take over the Internet, Glenn, not the government.

And Glenn won’t tell you how he’s profiting from selling the Glenn Beck apocalypse:

Glenn has taken everything conservatives have done and want to do (publicly) and leveled them at the door of the left. It isn’t the work of a few minutes to show what he has done. Google or Bing it, and see for yourself.

There is no more substance to Beck’s rants than there were to Coulter’s. And what’s going on anyway, has there been some passing of the torch? Or did they agree that Coulter would condemn liberals while Beck took care of progressives? Whatever happened, they are both consistently and diligently avoiding facts in their nasty, fantastic narratives.

Beck is a purveyor of fiction, and poor fiction at that. Good fiction, at least is believable. But Beck can’t offer us anything of the sort. His blackboard can’t conjure anything remotely believable. He invents things, yet constantly complains that nobody is talking about it. “Why isn’t anyone talking about it?” he shrieks.

There is nobody talking about it because it is untrue, Glenn. You made it up. Until you lied about it on your show today, nobody had even heard of it. You might as well start your show by saying a dragon ate your underwear. Why isn’t anyone talking about that?

Oh that’s right: it didn’t happen.

Sadly, all too many people do believe Glenn, including people who go on to murder others, inspired to do so by his lies. People gather around the radio to eagerly take in his most salacious gossip, all too willing to believe it because it feeds their fear and their suspicions. This is how Hitler worked too, sowing doubt and fear, feeding paranoia and suspicion and xenophobia and homophobia. Little separates them in terms of what they say and how they say it. And that’s not Godwin’s Law; it’s a fact.

Sadly, Glenn Beck is living proof that dishonesty pays. There is such a thing as a perfect crime, and Glenn Beck is committing it.

5 responses so far

President Obama Embraces the Liberal Spirit of Christmas

Dec 13 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

President Obama reminds Americans to have empathy this holiday season

President Obama Ties Christmas in With Liberal Ideology

President Obama spoke at the Christmas in Washington celebration last night at a performance to benefit the Children’s National Medical Center, during which he tied the Christmas holiday to the liberal themes that we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and that Christmas is a time to remember those in need as well as to celebrate.

President Obama spoke movingly about the Christian themes of charity, compassion, and goodwill, tying these tenets of faith to the notion that as Americans we have a responsibility for our neighbors.

Video courtesy of the Whitehouse Blog:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/12/13/remarks-president-christmas-washington

“This season reminds us that more than 2,000 years ago, a child born in a stable brought our world a redeeming gift of peace and salvation. It’s a story with a message that speaks to us to this day — that we are called to love each other as we love ourselves, that we are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper, and our destinies are linked.

It’s a message that guides my Christian faith and it focuses us as we think about all those whose holidays may be a bit tougher this year. We pray for our troops serving far away from the warmth of family and homespun traditions. We remember those who are out of work, or struggling just to get by. We hold in our hearts all those who’ve fallen on hard times this holiday season.

Because while Christmas is a time to celebrate, a time to sing chorales and exchange gifts, it’s also something more. It’s a time to rediscover the meaning of words like “charity” and “compassion” and “goodwill”; to do our part for our neighbors; to serve God through serving others. So from our family to yours, happy holidays, everybody. Merry Christmas, and God bless you all. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.”

Cue the right wing head’s exploding as the President ties the core foundation of Christianity to the liberal notions of compassion, charity and goodwill. I can hear the flag pins popping over at Fox as I type.

As the President struggles with the obstructionism of the Republicans on one hand and the betrayal of his Democratic Senate on the other, his words serve to remind us that at the end of the day, the unemployment benefits he salvaged for those in need this season represent a core value of our democracy – the value of empathy. Indeed, while it may be a nasty business to negotiate the public theft of tax breaks for the rich in order to provide a social safety net for the poor, it is not only our moral mission but also our patriotic duty to act on behalf of the least among us.

It is this spirit of civility and empathy that represents the best of America, it’s what motivated millions to work tirelessly to get President Obama elected, and it is ultimately the place we need to rediscover as a nation. We need to abandon the sports mentality of a win for us a loss for the other team, we need to set aside the tea party selfishness along with our own grievances, and we need to stand up as the mighty Americans we are and take ownership of the tremendous spirit of this land.

We may have been kicked around for years and abused by corporate interests, we may be battered and enraged and feeling helpless as we look around this great country at the state of our infrastructure (e.g., education), but we can overcome this together. We can keep our eye on the eternal rightness of the American cause as we support this President in his goals of long-term paradigm shifting regarding the role of government as a government that cares about the least among us.

The American people support the concept of a social safety net. The American people want those among us who are suffering to be afforded some protection. They want a government that will not do for them, but will protect them from the for profit motive of corporations in a balancing act between capitalism and democracy. The American people want a government that will protect and empower them to be their best.

We can do this if we remember who we are.

We can do this by working for the good of the whole. We do this by softening our hearts to anger and injustice for long enough to look behind us and acknowledge the suffering of others. And instead of turning a cold shoulder as we raise pitchforks to the corporatist rapers of the American dream, let’s take this battle to a place where we can win our democracy back, one step at a time.

It all starts with remembering who we are as a country. Compassion, charity, goodwill and a fighting, can-do spirit. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, these timeless values inform the foundation of liberalism and of American patriotism. This holiday season, we can embrace the positive, highest aspects of our beliefs and own them proudly.

While there are philosophical differences in the way the left and right approach these problems, no serious person can say this country did not intend to provide a social safety net for its people and yet here we are, the left forced into the street to argue and defend the absurd premise that it’s un-American to not hand all of our hard earned money over to the top 2 percent, as they grift and steal from the people. We’ve gotten so far off course as we’ve been forced further and further off the cliff that we’ve forgotten who we are.

We are the only people out there fighting for the least among us. Let’s not forget that this holiday season. How long I waited to have a President who could and would remind us of the best in ourselves, who would use the holiday season to bring us home to our core values, who shared my beliefs regarding the role of government. And he’s here now. Imperfect, perhaps, but still leading the soft charge forward to a better America.

5 responses so far

Iowa Case Shows GOP Doesn’t Really Believe in States’ Rights

James Bopp, Jr of Indiana wants to force Iowa to pass Republican Purity Standards

The Republican Party is host to the tenther movement – extreme form of “populist” outrage that says the Constitutionally ordained federal government is, well…unconstitutional. Somehow, and in some way, the federal government that was established to run the country in the post-Articles of Confederation world, has no legitimate right to run the country.

It is no surprise that tenthers have found their happy spot in the Republican ranks. The Republican Party has traditionally been the party of “smaller government” and Republican discourse in general has become ever shriller on the issue of federal interference in our lives, and in the “state business” of individual states. Even those Republicans who don’t drone on incessantly about states’ rights rail against big federal government and about being told what to do by that government.

The “tenthers” are crazy about the 10th Amendment (thus the name). The Tenth Amendment deals with states rights – that is, in a Constitutional sense – those rights which are not retained for the federal government. What is left over belongs to the states.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The tenthers seem to think that pretty much everything is left over to the states. They take a very “minimalist” approach to the Constitution, one that seems a bit at odds with the ideas of some of the important authors of that document, including James Madison, who was very concerned about the threat to liberty posed by state legislatures.

Apparently, he was right to worry.

Though to be fair, even if he had managed to get the phrase “The states have no rights” into the Constitution, Republicans today would be interpreting that to mean the “federal government has no rights.”

Those pesky facts again.

It interests me that a group – I’m speaking of the Republicans a a whole here and not just tenthers – who are so interested in stripping down the powers of the federal government (and that is general Republican rhetoric since a black man was elected to be president) are so anxious and willing to interfere in the rights of other states.

Take California and Proposition 8. That’s supposed to be the business of California and of Californians if this whole states rights thing has any meaning at all, isn’t it? But conservatives shipped support INTO California to ensure that a segment of the population that they did not like was stripped of their constitutional rights. And in so doing – by their interpretation at any rate – stripped Californians of theirs.  I’m thinking about all those Mormons, for example, and all that Mormon money – from Utah.

What does Utah have to do with California?

We might ask too, what do out-of-state Republican interests have to do with Iowa? Well, they don’t like Iowa’s judiciary. They say it fails THEIR purity test. It has to go, they say. They want Iowa to toe the line.

Where’s the tenther outrage? Or is it outrageous only if a black Democrat – who happens to head the Executive Branch of the constitutionally established federal government – wants the states to follow the constitution? The states have no rights if its something the Republicans want? Is that how this works?

The Iowa Independent reports that

James Bopp, Jr. — the Republican National Committeeman behind failed “Purity Test” and “Socialist” resolutions — filed a federal lawsuit this week in hopes of changing the judicial selection process in Iowa.  The suit, filed on behalf of four state residents, charges that attorneys have too much influence in the selection process.

I don’t know…I just want to throw this thought out there…bounce it off the wall so to speak…but isn’t it IOWA’S business how they nominate their judiciary?

It’s not as if the system is a violation of the Constitution – national or state – it’s simply that Republicans don’t like that the system doesn’t force Iowans to nominate the kinds of judges they want.

In Bopp’s opinion, the nearly 50-year-old Iowa system provides “attorneys a stranglehold on the judiciary” while denying “ordinary voters” an equal voice.

My kingdom for populist outrage! Round up for locals and sue on their behalf.  But do four Iowans rounded up for the purpose amount in any legitimate sense to “populist outrage” among Iowa voters over how the system is handled?

It seems to work pretty well for Iowans.

You all might remember Mr. Bopp

Bopp, who has also worked in Iowa on behalf of a state affiliate of a national anti-abortion group and a national anti-gay organization, is hardly a newcomer to politics or lawsuits in relation to election law. A key supporter of and advisor for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during the 2008 presidential cycle, Bopp was also a key architect of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which led to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down limits on corporate spending in elections.

Bopp has represented anti-gay groups in Iowa, California and Maine, “petitioning that laws which require the groups to form Political Action Committees (PACs) and disclose their donors are unconstitutional.”

It doesn’t seem to matter that Bopp himself isn’t a citizen of any of the states he interferes with. He is, I am ashamed to say, a Hoosier, a Terre Haute, Indiana resident. Shouldn’t he be concerning himself with Indiana’s affairs? I mean, if the chief executive of the United States has no business worrying about what happens in say, Kentucky, what right does an Indiana lawyer have saying Iowa lawyers have no right to what happens in Iowa?

In point of fact, Republicans are more than happy to interfere in affairs of states not their own and they’re happy to have the federal government interfere as well if they can push their socially conservative agenda, and that is the business of James Bopp, Jr, who has served as general counsel for National Right to Life since 1978 and as the special counsel for Focus on the Family since 2004.

Yeah, I think you smell what I’m cooking here. Don’t be fooled. None of these people, the Republican Party as a whole or the tenthers as a group really want the federal government stripped of its powers – specifically its power to force states to toe the line – if that happened, a conservative-controlled federal government would have no ability to ram a socially conservative agenda down your throats. States Rights are only an issue because a black man – a Democrat – was elected president. Like the Tea Party, there was no Tenther movement before the Republicans were kicked out of office in 2008. Some states’ rights advocates like to claim as a genesis of their movement opposition to Bush’s unconstitutional attacks on individual freedoms after 9/11 but if so, they have been subsumed and their rhetoric along with them, by the Republican Party and its icons like Sarah Palin and Sharron Angle.

The Republican Pledge of America said,

We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have been consistently ignored – particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Like the Tea Party, the tenther movement has become – however it originated – a reaction to Republican loss of control, a counter-revolutionary socially conservative force and not a radical revolutionary force, and one that pays no mind to the rights of states when it comes to standards of Republican purity.

5 responses so far

Obama: “Don’t bet against America. Don’t bet against the American auto industry.”

The GOP lines up against America

“Don’t bet against America. Don’t bet against the American auto industry!” Not something Republicans want to hear. Republicans have been betting against America and the American auto industry for both years of Barack Obama’s presidency. They ran against America in 2010 and they will run against America in 2012.

President Obama is having none of that. He was addressing auto workers in Kokomo, Indiana, an auto-transmission plant that once was struggling and then was saved by the stimulus plan. Yes, the plant has gone back to full production.

Imagine that, after the Republicans bet against and gave up on the American auto industry.  Republican voices from 2008:

  • Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the guy who doesn’t have time now to ratify the START treaty: “Just giving them $25 billion doesn’t change anything,” said on Fox News Sunday. “It just puts off for six months or so the day of reckoning.”
  • Richard Shelby (R-AL), the senior Republican on the Senate banking committee, said the plan was  “a road to nowhere.” He called the “Big Three” — Detroit’s three major automakers — “a dinosaur,” and said on NBC’s Meet the Press that they are “not building the right products. … They don’t innovate.”
  • “The Bush administration opposes using part of the $700 billion financial rescue package to help the automakers. The White House has instead proposed freeing up a separate $25 billion in loans that were designed to help carmakers retool factories to build more fuel-efficient vehicles. They were included as part of last year’s energy bill toughening mileage standards.”
  • John Boehner said, “Spending billions of additional federal tax dollars with no promises to reform the root causes crippling automakers’ competitiveness around the world is neither fair to taxpayers nor sound fiscal policy,”

They bet against the auto industry, all of them, from the top down (Shelby was betting ON the foreign auto makers who have facilities in his home state – Honda, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz. And guess what? Chrysler is investing another $800 million in the plant. As Obama told the workers, “That’s real money, $800 million.”

And what did Obama say in 2008?

  • “For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment.”

As CNN reports, “Republicans call the stimulus bill a failure because unemployment grew to well over the 8 percent level predicted by the Obama administration.”

Of course, the stimulus wasn’t everything it could have been, thanks to Republican obstructionism. So it’s nice that they admit they were wrong, even in a roundabout way.

But Obama has triumphed as the American auto industry has triumphed. The Republicans wanted American industry to fail and foreign companies to triumph (don’t forget who Lou Ferrigno advertises for – HINT: it ain’t an American car, folks). They still love foreign money, all the while pretending to be “real” American patriots.

But they don’t love America. They love money. And they don’t care where it comes from. It’s as mercenary a political leadership as can be found. Democracy for sale by RepubliCorp.

9 responses so far

Bryan Fischer Wants You to Leave Him on the Battlefield

Nov 20 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

"Don't feminize yourself by saving me!"

We’re all familiar with Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person of the Week.” I do something similar on my personal blog,using the old Norse term nithing (ON niðingr).
A nithing is a villain, scoundrel, coward, vile wretch. A nothing could also be a truce-breaker or a traitor. A niðing deed (niðingsverk) is an ill deed, or villainy. A person guilty of this sort of behavior was held in contempt.

This award works from a target rich environment, and it is not always easy to choose a candidate. My front-runner right now is Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the hate group called the American Family Association, who whined, er, um…I mean, “opined”that he didn’t like that President Obama awarded the medal of honor to a soldier who saved lives.

Apparently, saving lives is feminine. Taking lives is masculine, and soldiers should be killing, not saving. We’ll remember that if Mr. Fischer ever finds himself on a battlefield trying to hold his intestines in. “Sorry, it wouldn’t be manly to save you. You understand.”

Given the dearth of women in U.S. combat units (conservatives don’t like them there) it is to be wondered who Mr. Fischer thinks would save him. No self respecting man would. Fischer certainly wouldn’t respect any man who stopped to pull him to safety. “You girlie man!” he would cry, outraged.

What is it, exactly, that this brave soldier did that upset this week’s hatemonger so much?

Sgt. Giunta is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama

From his Medal of Honor Citation:

While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.

I don’t know; sounds pretty manly to me. One of just 19 men to ever win two, Tom Custer (brother of the more famous George Armstrong Custer) didn’t win his by slashing through Confederate regiments with gleaming saber.

He was awarded two Medals of Honor for capturing Confederate regimental flags (2nd North Carolina Cavalry flag at Namozine Church on April 3, 1865, and again at Sayler’s Creek on April 6, 1865).

Isn’t handling fabric kind of girlie? I mean, shouldn’t Tom have been killing people instead of stealing their material?

An eyewitness reported:

“Custer crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of the road, where his unit was confronted by a supporting battle-line. In the second line he wrested the colors from an enemy color bearer. Advancing on another standard he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse. Despite his wounds, he continued his assault on the color bearer who began to fall from wounds he had also received. As he fell, the wounded Lieutenant Custer reached out to grasp this second standard of colors, bearing both off in triumph.”

Again, sounds pretty manly to me. How would Mr. Fischer feel about this sort of activity? I mean, being shot in the face isn’t very manly either, is it? After all, as Fischer said in his blog post, “Gen. George Patton once famously said, ‘The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.'”

Yeah, it’s definitely girlie to get shot.

What’s the logic behind all this? According to Fischer, “So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?”

Saving people, getting shot and killed, none of that helps Mr. Fischer sleep soundly at night. He wants to know that the enemy is being eviscerated.

Naturally, there was some outrage over Fischer’s remarks but that doesn’t phase the old hater. Nossir. Fischer defended himself with the following words:

“The bottom line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process.”

Ya got that, you wannabe heroes like Sgt. Giunta?

“What I’m saying is that it’s time we started imitating God’s example again.” You tell ‘em Mr. Fischer.

“What I am saying is that I am observing a trend in which we single out bravery in self-defense and yet seem hesitant to single out bravery in launching aggressive attacks that result in the deaths of enemy soldiers.”

The key points seem to be these:

  • Kill enemy soldiers
  • Don’t get shot or killed yourself
  • Don’t feminize your comrades by expecting them to rescue you
  • Don’t feminize yourself by rescuing your comrades (or Bryan Fischer)
  • Don’t feminize yourself by worrying about fabrics on the battlefield

“Christianity,” he reminds us, as if multiple crusades, inquisitions and witch burnings are not evidence enough, “is not a religion of pacifism.” Because there’s nothing about loving your enemy or turning the other cheek in your holy book, right, Mr. Fischer? “War is certainly a terrible thing, and should only be waged for the highest and most just of causes. But if the cause is just, then there is great honor in achieving military success, success which should be celebrated and rewarded.”

This is the manly world of Bryan Fischer. Follow these simple rules and you too can be a real genuine American hero.

22 responses so far

Older posts »