After 2 Years Obama’s Approval Rating Is Higher than Clinton and Reagan

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News

The latest Gallup poll on President Obama’s job approval rating contained an interesting nugget of information. After two years on the job, Barack Obama’s approval rating is higher than that of two recent presidents who had big reelection victories, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. One term Presidents George HW Bush and Jimmy Carter, and post-9/11 president George W. Bush had higher ratings than Obama at the halfway mark.

According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s weekly job approval rating is holding steady at 47%. Despite all of the criticism that this president has faced his approval rating is down only slightly from the same week in 2009 when it was 51%. The problem with weekly job approval ratings is that at best they only provide an immediate snapshot of public opinion. They do not encompass long term trends, or the possible shifting of attitudes based on long term unfolding political developments, but with the economy continuing to struggle, the fact that Obama’s approval rating is remaining steady is good news for the White House.

At the halfway point of Obama’s term, his approval rating is right in the middle of the pack when the last six presidents are ranked. George H.W. Bush had the highest approval rating at the midpoint of his term, (63%). Second on the list was his son, George W. Bush, (61%). Next on the list is Jimmy Carter at 51%. Obama was fourth at 47%, and surprisingly two most popular recent presidents were at the bottom. Ronald Reagan was at 43%, and Bill Clinton was at 40%.

Both of the Bush presidencies had their midterm popularity boosted by the patriotism of being war time presidents. For George H.W. Bush, the Gulf War boosted his approval, while George W. Bush was still benefiting from the nation’s emotional reaction to 9/11 and their support of the war in Afghanistan. Because of this neither of these presidents’ approval ratings are an accurate comparison to Obama. Carter is an interesting case, but his approval rating was soon to plummet under the weight of the Iran hostage crisis.

A more accurate comparison for Obama is to the presidencies of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. In 1994, Bill Clinton saw his approval rating sink to as low as 39%. The high water mark for Clinton from July of 1994 through the rest of the year was 48%. President Clinton’s approval rating from Thanksgiving until the end of the year did not go any higher than 42%. Clinton also suffered a disastrous midterm defeat where his party lost control of both the House and the Senate.

Until the current recession, the Reagan recession was the worst in recent memory. It might seem hard to believe now, because Reagan is remembered as a popular president, but Reagan’s job approval rating for his second year in office was 43%. Reagan struggled through most of 1983. He began the year with an approval rating of 35%, and it took him 11 months of the year to reach a 50% job approval rating.

After closing the year with a string of legislative successes, the talk of Obama being a one term president, or facing a 2012 primary challenger has faded, but the ongoing recession has taken a toll on the President’s job approval ratings. By looking at the differential between Reagan and Clinton’s recessionary and post-recession approval ratings, it is possible to argue that a poor economy can cost a president 10-15 points of approval. These things considered, President Obama isn’t in that bad of shape as he heads into the second half of his first term.

Only George W. Bush had a midterm approval rating of over 50% and went on to win reelection. Bush is somewhat of a special case as he benefitted at the midpoint from terrorism concerns and the war in Afghanistan, and he was able to narrowly win reelection by campaigning on being a wartime president, and the war in Iraq. In 2004, Bush was able to capitalize on American voters’ reluctance to change presidents during wartime.

As the economy turns upwards, Obama’s approval ratings will follow. The fact that this president has managed to keep his approval rating near 50% despite the economy, an epic midterm election loss by his party, and daily criticism by his opposition is not good news for Republicans looking ahead to 2012. Should the economy improve by the time Obama faces reelection, I think he will probably achieve a similar result to what Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton will able to accomplish with their reelection bids.

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A President Reborn: Heading Into 2011 Support For Obama Surges

Dec 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

According to the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll, President Obama’s latest string of legislative victories including the ratification of the START treaty and repeal of DADT have resulted in people coming back to the President. The number of Americans who want the Democrats to renominate Obama is at its highest level of the year, while the number of Americans who want someone else has dropped.

According to the poll, 78% of Democrats want to renominate Obama. This is a five point increase from the last time the question was asked days before the 2010 midterms. Just as important for Obama is that while more people are looking to support him in 2012, fewer wanted a different Democratic candidate. The number of respondents who wanted the Democrats to pick a different candidate to head up the 2012 ticket dropped from 22% to 19%.

Women support the renomination of President Obama more than men, (80% to 76%). Those making more than $50,000 support the President in greater number than those who are earning under $50,000, (83%-73%). Interestingly, support for the President’s 2012 candidacy reaches some of its highest levels with voters over age 65. Eighty percent of senior citizens supported the idea of nominating Obama again. However, those under age 50 support Obama being the 2012 Democratic nominee by 3 points more than those over 50, (79%-76%).

Eighty percent of liberals supported nominating Obama again, as did 78% of moderates. Interestingly 70% of Independents supported the idea that Obama should be the 2012 Democratic nominee, and only 27% thought it should be a different candidate. 82% of self-identified Democrats supported renominating Obama, and only 14% wanted a different candidate. The idea of Obama being the Democratic nominee again is slightly more popular in the suburbs than in urban areas, (80%-78%). 83% of college graduates supporting renominating Obama compared to 72% of non-college grads.

To put Obama numbers into context, in 1994, only 57% of those polled thought that the Democratic Party should nominate Bill Clinton, but by 1996, Bill Clinton cruised to a second term with a landslide victory over Bob Dole. In comparison to where Clinton was in 1994, President Obama is in really good shape. Other polling has shown that the reason for the turnaround in the President’s numbers was the tax compromise. As American’s give Obama credit for the compromise, and see his legislative victories pile up. Obama has his momentum back.

In their post-November victory euphoria, Republicans have made a huge tactical mistake. After using their minority powers for more than a year to stifle the Obama agenda, the Republicans decided to compromise on tax cuts, START, DADT, and food safety, and gave the President new life. Many on the left blasted Obama for “caving” to the Republicans on tax cuts, but the Republican leadership was just as eager to make the deal, and they apparently had no idea how much this compromise would help the President.

Sure they got two years of their precious tax cuts for the rich, but at what cost? Obama got all the political credit, and went on to rattle off a string of victories before the lame duck Congress adjourned. If both the Republicans and the White House are smart, they will realize that compromise is mutually beneficial and will continue to work together, but when Republicans went from the Party of No to the Party of Well Okay Just This Once, they gave the Obama the opening he needed to revive his presidency. Once again, Barack Obama outwitted the leadership of the GOP, and heading into 2012, has look of a president reborn.

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Obama’s 2011 Resolution: Escape the Presidential Bubble

Dec 26 2010 Published by under Featured News

Senior White House adviser Valarie Jarrett was on NBC’s Meet The Press today where she offered up an interesting New Year’s resolution for President Obama and the White House. Jarrett said they are going to get the president out more to listen and engage with the American people, “It’s really what gives him his energy and his strength, and so we’re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority.”

Here is the video from NBC News:

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On November 3, Obama lamented being stuck in the presidential bubble, “When you’re in this place, it is hard not to seem removed, and one of the challenges that we’ve got to think about is, is, is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House, which require a lot of–lot of hours and a lot of work, you know, but still, you know, have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a, on a day-to-day basis and know–give, give them confidence that I’m listening to them.”

Host David Gregory asked Senior White House adviser, Valarie Jarrett about doing a better job connecting with the American people and she answered, “Well, he often says that this is his biggest regret, is that when he took office, because of the crisis that was presented to him, he had to spend almost every waking hour in Washington focusing very hard on solving that crisis, and what he missed sorely was the engagement with the American people. He said it right before he left for vacation. He said, “When I get back, I really want to figure out a way where I can spend more time outside of Washington listening and learning and engaging with the American people.” It’s really what gives him his energy and his strength, and so we’re determined in the new year to make sure that his schedule reflects that priority.”

All presidents get trapped in the presidential bubble, and they all hate it. In 2008 presidential historian Richard Norton Smith discussed with ABC News how lonely the job of the president can be. Smith said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the loneliness [of being president]. Ultimately, it’s the sense of responsibility. The crushing sense of personal responsibility -– think of what this president is up against: a couple of wars and a spiraling economy –- there’s no escape, and that’s lonely.”

In 1947 then President Harry Truman said, “The White House is the finest prison in the world,” and that was before the Kennedy assassination lead to even more isolation for all future occupants of the White House. There is also a political consideration to getting Obama out of the bubble often in 2011. As we all know, President Obama will be running for a second term in 2012. It has become standard operating procedure for every challenger of an incumbent president to label the sitting president as out of touch with America. By getting the President out of the White House more, his administration is launching a preemptive strike against this criticism.

Whether it because of Obama’s personal preference or political concerns, only positives can come from getting the President out of the bubble, it is a good resolution for this White House to set for 2011. If President Obama is able to get out more, it will also be a sign that the troubled times of the last two years may finally be on their way towards being behind us. Having a president that is more in touch with the American people is a win for the president and the people. This is one resolution that I hope will make it through the New Year.

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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.

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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?

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Obama’s Disapproval Rating Almost Doubles with Democrats

Dec 11 2010 Published by under Featured News

A new McClatchy-Marist poll was released today and it contained some that should give both the White House and President a cause for concern as they implement the President’s new centrist strategy. According to the poll, Obama’s approval rating has dropped to a new low of 42%. This decline is being fueled by a near doubling in his disapproval rating among Democrats.

According to McClatchy, Obama is struggling because Democrats are rebelling against his move to the middle. Obama’s approval rating dropped among Democrats from 82% last month to 74% in December. More troubling than the decline in approval is the increase in disapproval. Obama’s disapproval rating with Democrats has jumped from 11% in November to 21% in December. Obama’s rating has also dropped with liberals. He has gone from 78% to 69%, and his disapproval rating has jumped from 14% to 22%. This entire shift can be attributed to Obama’s compromise on the Bush tax cuts, and his base’s outrage and rejection of the deal.

The President could compensate for the loss of some Democrats if his move to the middle was gaining him support with Independents, but as of right now this is not happening. Obama’s approval rating remains flat lined at 39% and his disapproval ratings is stuck at 52%. This White House made the mistake of believing that their base was different from that of the GOP. It isn’t. A significant piece of the Democratic base does not want a compromiser president. They want a fighter. What has most angered the part of the base that is upset is that Obama appeared to quickly give in to the Republican demands on the Bush tax cuts.

The appearance of a quick acquiescence returns us to what I see as the biggest problem this administration has. They don’t understand or engage in the theater of politics. Much of what we see in politics every day is a show designed for the media and the base. The problem for this administration is that they don’t want to engage in the presidential showmanship. For example, let’s take look at what Obama could have done on the issue of the Bush tax cuts. Obama could have come out right away and said, “I am going to be sitting down and engaging in tough negotiations with the Republican leadership. They are going to have to meet certain demands of mine before any deal is reached, and my top demand is good faith gesture of passage of an extension of unemployment benefits.”

Instead of rushing into a deal with Republicans, the White House could have taken couple of weeks to update America on the progress of the meetings. Even if they would have had the framework of a deal hammered out, Obama could have continued to lobby for his priorities. That’s part of the showmanship of politics. Obama could have announced an 11th hour deal on Christmas Eve to extend unemployment benefits and a temporary extension of the tax cuts. The President would have avoided looking like someone who weakly gave in to GOP demands. He would have appeared to a fighter who went tooth and nail with the Republicans and took it down to the wire. With a little patience and few strong public statements, Obama would have avoided a rebellion by his base.

The deal Obama made was good practical politics, but it has been an emotional disaster for some on the left. Much of this backlash is Obama’s own creation. The President spent six weeks campaigning all across America on the issue of no additional tax cuts for the top 2% only to quickly reverse himself a month after Democrats lost the 2010 elections. To the base, this about face is hurtful and confusing. There are some on the left who don’t trust Obama anymore.

The White House needs to start understanding the emotional component of governing. Their statements and decisions have emotional consequences. Obama’s base isn’t as logical and rational as he is. Obama needs to emotionally reconnect, and understand that some on the left want a fighter, not just a decider. The good news is that one strong battle with Republicans will get the base back. They aren’t gone forever. Deep down inside they still support Obama. They just need to see that Obama supports them too.

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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.

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Obama Admits That Tax Cuts For The Rich Won’t Create Jobs

Dec 10 2010 Published by under Featured News

President Obama was on NPR’s Morning Edition Friday discussing the compromise on the Bush tax cuts when in response to a listener’s question about how keeping the tax cut for the rich will create jobs Obama said, “It doesn’t, which is why I was opposed to it — and I’m still opposed to it.” Obama admitted that he had to compromise because if he didn’t he felt that the economic recovery would be endangered.”

Here is the audio courtesy of Think Progress:

When asked about the role of the Bush tax cuts in terms of job creation Obama said, “It doesn’t, which is why I was opposed to it — and I’m still opposed to it. The issue here is not whether I think that the tax cuts for the wealthy are a good or smart thing to do. I’ve said repeatedly that I think they’re not a smart thing to do, particularly because we’ve got to borrow money, essentially, to pay for them.”

Obama framed the tax cuts as the first shot in a battle over the tax code, “The problem is, is that this is the single issue that the Republicans are willing to scotch the entire deal for. And in that circumstances — in that circumstance, we’ve got, basically, a very simple choice: Either I allow 2 million people who are currently getting unemployment insurance not to get it, either I allow the recovery that we’re on to be endangered or we make a compromise now, understanding that for the next two years this is going to be a central battle as part of a larger discussion about how do we reform our tax code so that it’s fair and how do we make sure that we actually are dealing with the deficit and debt in an intelligent way?”

Everyone who isn’t a blind right wing ideologue who isn’t in total denial of economic reality knows that extending the Bush tax cuts is not going to spur job creation. It is not logical to believe that keeping taxes at their current levels is going to have some sort of magical effect on job creation, but Republicans have long been believers in the dream of trickle down fairy dust. The myth of the magic of trickledown economics is a whimsical cover to story to hide the redistribution of wealth in this country from the bottom to the top. Trickledown economics is behind the Republican rationale for keeping the Bush tax cuts, and Obama is essentially saying that he made the choice to save the fragile economic recovery by giving the Republicans something that he knows is an expensive fool’s errand.

While the President’s consideration of those in the direst of need is commendable, it will not be easy for him to argue that these tax cuts are unnecessary now that he has agreed to extend them. If the economy starts humming along again, Republicans will ignore reality and give all the credit to the tax cuts. Democrats and Obama will give credit the stimulus and the traditional increase in government spending during a recession.

The point is that that this compromise likely will make Obama’s future battle with the Republicans on taxes and tax cuts even more difficult. The threat to the economic survival of two million Americans forced Obama to make this deal, but both he and the Republicans are gearing up for a total war on the issues of taxes, the tax code, and the deficit. While America is thinking short term, Obama is focusing on the long term big picture. A president’s time in office is so limited that long term thinking presidents are rare. It will be interesting to see if America will accept a president that has a long term strategy in this age of instant gratification politics.

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Conservatives Lick Their Chops While The Left Cannibalizes Obama

Dec 09 2010 Published by under Featured News

After President Obama’s press conference announcing a deal with Republicans on tax cuts, the left exploded with such ferocity and divisiveness that it’s no wonder conservatives always win. It’s sad to see the left demonize Obama as a sellout for making the best out of losing situation for the majority of Americans.

There is justification for the ire on the Left over the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy; but where is the elation that Obama got a 13 month extension for millions of unemployed Americans? With no super majority in the Senate, and Blue Dog Democrats in the House, there was little hope there would be any relief for the unemployed. It makes one wonder if the humanitarians on the left felt it was worth watching millions of Americans lose their homes to make a point. Some on the left repeated Republican HCR talking points with, “we are saddling our kids and grand-kids with debt.”

Every American receives a tax cut that will stimulate the economy, but that is lost in the outrage on the left. The deal affects every American, not just the whims of liberals who possibly don’t need tax relief. No one except Republicans and the wealthy wanted the rich tax cuts extended, but in order to help the majority of Americans, the president made a very tough decision.

The deal Obama reached with Republicans is not perfect, but in this political climate he had little choice but to help the most Americans. The left ignores that out of the $3.7 Trillion dollar tax cut deal, only $130 Billion goes for the wealthy tax cuts. The deal includes several Progressive tax cuts and this agreement is a back door stimulus package the country needs. For all the liberal talk that Obama sold out his base, there is no satisfaction that the tax cuts for 98% of Americans will go back into the economy; Obama didn’t sell out America.

Every American has a pet policy issue they feel is more important than any others, and it is perfectly natural. Those on the left feel their signature issues should take precedence over the good of the majority, but they forget that America is more than just right and left. A great majority of Americans are in the center, and Obama recognizes that he is President for all Americans; not just liberals and progressives. During President Obama’s victory speech in 2008, he plainly stated that he was president to all Americans whether they supported him or not.

The pundits on the left have gone super-critical in their pomposity about Obama selling out his base and losing his support, and the talking heads on MSNBC lead the list of elitists. A respected journalist said today that Keith Olbermann is MSNBC’s Glenn Beck, and there is more than a kernel of truth to that description. Olbermann’s 12 minute rant against the tax deal was condescending, and the pompous tone makes one wonder if he is sincere or showing how “fair and balanced” they are at the network.

Instead of blaming the president for every problem dealing with Republicans, very few are blaming the Democrats who are fearful of the perpetual campaigning and election season that they failed to support the president when there was a majority in the House. In fact, although there were numbers to suggest a majority, the truth is, there were never 60 votes in the Senate. Republicans have an easy time filibustering and blocking every one of Democrat’s legislation but there wasn’t talk of filibuster reform until the time comes when Republicans have the majority and there’s no hope of reform.

If they can lose their arrogant, spoiled child attitudes for a minute, the left should take a lesson from the right. At least the Tea Party and Republicans know to unify for a common cause. The Left has no common cause. Perhaps if Democrats could count on a unified base, they may be more willing to fight harder for progressive issues, but as it is, there is such a fractured, me first attitude, that there is no unified platform. Health care reform was a monumental achievement, but many on the left still complain there wasn’t a public option. There would be no HCR if Democrats and Obama stuck with a public option.

Liberals and Progressives are supposed to care about Americans, but their whiny, Tea Party mentality belies their convictions. The tax deal President Obama made is not ideal; it’s not even good, unless you are unemployed and wonder where your children’s next meal is coming from, or how you’ll pay rent this month.

Conservatives are licking their chops watching the left cannibalize President Obama for governing from the center; it is short-sighted and arrogant to believe otherwise. According to a July 2010 Gallup Poll, 20% of Americans identified themselves as liberal, 42% were conservative, and 35% are centrists. President Obama still enjoys an 80% approval rating among Democrats, so the outrage coming from elite liberals like Olbermann and Maddow is misleading; they are defaming a Centrist President.

The left should beware making Olbermann their Glenn Beck, and should start looking at political realities. No one knows how the tax deal eventually plays out, but one thing is certain; millions of Americans will benefit from unemployment extensions, and every American will get a tax cut. Children will get school lunches and parents get credits worth $2,500 for their college students. Maybe it isn’t everything to everybody, but the deal has something for everyone; even the wealthy. That is what happens in politics and life. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, and in this deal, there is something good for a lot of Americans; even those on the left.

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Newt Gingrich’s New Gig: Tea Party Demagogue

Dec 08 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Newt Gingrich

“I’ve never seen an administration, even the Carter administration was never as routinely chaotic,” Newt Gingrich told CNN. “Every time you turn around, this administration is fumbling somewhere around the world.”

His reckless attack on President Obama the other day ought to infuriate liberals and progressives alike. After eight years of reckless disregard for any diplomacy at all, Republicans ought to think twice about venturing forth on that subject. They are in no position to criticize because they have already proven they have no idea what diplomacy even is.

Gingrich claims he sees a gap between “the clarity and focus of that campaign and the confusion of the presidency.”

This sounds an awful lot like an accusation that the presidency isn’t ideologically driven, which is counter to the meme Gingrich otherwise seems to be pushing.

Now remember, Gingrich has called Obama “the most radical president in American history.” A strange accusation made by one of the most radical congressmen in American history against what is in fact a very centrist president.  Remember too, the source of Obama’s radicalism according to Gingrich:

A “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Dinshe D’Souza (ex-boy-toy to demagogues Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham) wrote in Forbes magazine,

“Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father’s dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost”.

And Gingrich thought this analysis was a “stunning insight”.

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.”

We need to remember this – it is essential to remember this – as we track Gingrich’s rhetoric on Obama. He began his attack by declaring that Obama is “not one of us.” He’s one of “them.” This is more dangerous than simply calling Obama a liberal or progressive ideologue. He is feeding on the birther meme that Obama is not American at all. He has already delegitimized the president, sowing fear and doubt, and then followed up this attack with discrediting his foreign policy.

This politician of a authoritarian and totalitarian party, a man who has re-invented himself a politician somewhere to the right of the Tea Party, has stated that we need to “save America” from Obama and Obama-led authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

And apparently President Obama, who actually HAS a foreign policy, needs to get his act together. What exactly this might mean under the circumstances is anyone’s guess. Does Gingrich want Obama to emulate Bush, and have no direction at all? Simply shoot from the hip and attack people on a whim? Or to detract attention from his domestic problems?

You see, a foreign policy should show some concern for the actual geopolitical situation – the “conditions on the ground” that your fellow Republican Liz Cheney was complaining about the other day. I think most of us can agree that this is more important than an adherence to ideology. But Republicans don’t like the pragmatic approach. Pragmatism is somehow an ideology and all ideology is bad unless it is conservative ideology, which in some way apparently isn’t an ideology at all but simply “common sense.”

It’s enough to make your head spin. It’s certainly reasonable to suppose that Gingrich’s head spins. He is acting like a hyperactive demonic-possession victim as he preps for a possible 2012 presidential run. He wisely declined to run in ’08 but there is no reason to suppose he will show the same sensible restraint next time around. He seems to be keying himself up, and attacks like this serve no other purpose than to draw attention to himself and away from the very real accomplishments of our serving president.

We have enough unreasoning, reckless hate emanating from Sarah Palin. Do we really need it from another possible contender? Is there nothing more to foreign policy than hate and an out of control nuclear-armed American exceptionalism? As if there wasn’t already enough for the United States to apologize for after the Bush maladministration. It is difficult to imagine what the world landscape will look like after four years of Gingrich (or Palin).

We can’t afford it. Our country is broke and exhausted. We don’t need any more cowboy adventurism or ideologically or religiously driven crusades. We need real common sense, and that is something that exists only in the imagination in the right-of-center American political landscape.

An argument is only as good as its foundations, and in this case, Gingrich’s point-of-departure is just plain fantasy. Any argument based on the less than credible premise that Obama is a Muslim or a “Kenyan anti-colonialist” will not be any more credible in itself. A balanced scale – some of you may remember those old scales with weights, has to be poised in the middle, not towards the left or right, or it won’t weigh properly, and Gingrich’s scale is set far to the right. His argument is flawed from the outset.

Back in 1812,  Republican newspapers did something very familiar to those of us of the post-9/11 world, they accused everyone not thinking like they did of being traitors and “tories” (about on a par with terrorists) and said “whoever is not for us, is against us.” The Boston Gazette had an answer for that, and it will be my answer now:

“Agreed, if you say so. [We] are against you…and the opposition to you will increase through every stage of your madness.”

Let that be our battle cry.

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