Rachel Maddow Examines Obama’s Quest for Political Unity

Jan 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow traced President Barack Obama’s efforts towards political unity. She examined all of Obama’s failed bi-partisan efforts, and concluded that Obama is going to have change his strategy because he is going to get zero Republican support.

Here is the video:

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After pointing out that Republicans are changing their stated policy views to disagree with Obama, Maddow said, “Republicans have been as unanimous as they can be in opposition to every major thing this president has tried to do and they expect to continue to be as best as I can tell, calculating that the political benefit of stopping a president from accomplishing anything is worth a lot more than any risk of being seen as obstructionist.”

Maddow moved on to Obama’s first year, “Barack Obama’s first year in office has been a real challenge to his whole political brand, to his baseline appeal, to the thing that made him popular in the first place. The reason the hope slogan worked and didn’t seem cynical, and the reason for all the often difficult, but earnest discussion of whether his was a post racial candidacy is because of President Obama’s constant message of what unites us is stronger than what divides us, that may be true in the country at large. I hope it’s true. It’s really not true in Washington though.”

She concluded that in order for the Democrats to get things done, they are going to need a strategy that counts on no Republican votes. This type of maneuver goes counter what Obama built his brand on, but the fate of his presidency may rest on whether or not he can get things done.

Maddow hit the nail on the head. One of the biggest transitions that all new presidents face is move from campaigning to governing. What got Obama elected was a message of hope and bi-partisanship. He can keep the hope, but he is going to have to abandon the idea of bi-partisanship. Obama’s success or failure is going to depend on how quickly he can implement a strategy for effective governance.

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Obama School Speech Dispels Irrational Right Wing Paranoia

Sep 07 2009 Published by under Featured News

The right wing furor over President Obama’s back to school speech was revealed to be even more insane than initially thought after the text of the speech was released today. The speech emphasizes students’ personal responsibility for their own education. This is a principle that even the most conservative Americans should support.

The right wing media, namely Glenn Beck and Fox News, were whipping up fear over an Obama speech for students that features lines such as, “And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

If you thought that paragraph embodied the creeping hand of socialism gripping our children check this out, “But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.”

Good God no. That socialist Obama wants students to listen to their teachers. Why if our kids grow up learning respect authority what will become of them? They could grow up to be good citizens, the kind of people who respect the law. We can’t have that now, can we?

Opponents charged that Obama was going to use the speech to encourage students to obey the government. The reality is that the speech encourages students to think for themselves, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.”

The far right let their imaginations and fears run wild when they heard about Obama’s speech, and the result is that they now look like complete fools. Their paranoia was based on a lesson plan that when looked at side by side with the speech does not contain the sinister element that they thought they saw. Obama’s speech was never going to indoctrinate anyone. This speech talks about the same educational themes that Obama has been talking about for two years now.

This flap over this speech has done nothing but make the Republican Party look even more out of step with the rest of America. The GOP has no hope of recapturing the White House any time soon, if the base of their party is going to be composed of the lunatic fringe. Their fear was misguided, misplaced, and completely unfounded. The monster that they see in the White House is not the same view that most Americans have of the president.

Here is the full text of the Obama Back to School Speech

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Kerry: Dick Cheney Doesn’t Respect the Constitution

Aug 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were on ABC’s This Week today where Kerry unloaded on former vice president Dick Cheney after Cheney blasted the decision to investigate CIA interrogation abuses. Kerry said, “Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress…”

On Fox News Sunday today, Cheney said, “I think it’s a terrible decision. It’s clearly a political move. There’s no other rationale for why they’re doing this.”

He also invoked 9/11 and claimed to be defending the CIA, “I think it’s a direct slap at the CIA. I don’t think it will work. I think that if they were faced with the kind of situation we were faced with in the aftermath of 9/11, suddenly capturing people that may have knowledge about imminent attacks, and they’re going to have to have meetings and decide who gets to ask what question and who’s going to Mirandize the witness — I just — I think it’s — it’s silly.”

Kerry replied, “Well, Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I’m not surprised that he is upset about this.”

He continued, “The Obama administration has no intention — I think the president himself has been unbelievably bending in the direction of trying to be careful about what happens to national security, protecting our national security interests, being very sensitive about the CIA’s prerogatives and needs and so forth.”

I wish somebody would come out and give the real reason for Dick Cheney’s vigorous defense of torture. He is trying to save his own skin. Cheney’s explanation sets up the false premise that the CIA was acting alone. This is not true. Cheney was running operations from the vice president’s office. Cheney constantly used his office to pressure the intelligence community.

If the CIA crossed the line, it was because someone ordered them to, and it is a pretty safe bet that Dick Cheney was involved. Cheney isn’t trying to keep America safe, defend his legacy, or the CIA. He is trying to save his own skin. There is nothing political about wanting to correct some of the most shameful abuses of power in recent American history. The true shame is that people like Cheney carried out these abuses in the name of the American people.

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Former Presidents Carter, Bush, and Clinton React to the Death of Ted Kennedy

Aug 26 2009 Published by under Featured News

Reaction is still coming in from all over the political world to the news that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away last night. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter have all released statements remembering Kennedy.

President George H.W. Bush said, “While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service — so much so, in fact, that I invited him to my library in 2003 to receive the Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service. Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the United States Senate — a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body’s history.”

President Bill Clinton said, “Senator Ted Kennedy was one of the most influential leaders of our time, and one of the greatest senators in American history. His big heart, sharp mind, and boundless energy were gifts he gave to make our democracy a more perfect union.”

He continued, “As President, I was thankful for his fierce advocacy for universal health care and his leadership in providing health coverage to millions of children. His tireless efforts have brought us to the threshold of real health care reform. I was also grateful for his efforts, often in partnership with Republicans as well as Democrats, to advance civil rights, promote religious freedom, make college more affordable, and give young Americans the opportunity to serve at home in Americorp. I am glad the bill President Obama signed to expand Americorp and other youth service opportunities is named the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Through it, his commitment to public service will live on in millions of young people across our nation.”

Clinton concluded, “Hillary and I will always be grateful for the many gestures of kindness and generosity he extended to us, for the concern he showed for all the children and grandchildren of the Kennedy clan, and for his devotion to all those in need whose lives were better because he stood up for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with Vicki, his children and grandchildren, and the people of Massachusetts he served so well.”

President Jimmy Carter said, “Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the Kennedy family. Senator Kennedy was a passionate voice for the citizens of Massachusetts and an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country. The courage and dignity he exhibited in his fight with cancer was surpassed only by his lifelong commitment and service to his country.”

Here is video of Carter expanding on his statement:

Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, few non-presidents have ever had the kind of impact on legislation and policy that Ted Kennedy had. He was the sort of political giant that our history books highlight, but it is likely that we won’t see anyone else that will have the impact that he did. The combination of the Kennedy legacy and his love of the Senate made him a unique figure in American political history.

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Coleman Congratulates Franken on Senate Win

Jun 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

After the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Al Franken should be certified the winner of the 2008 US Senate race in Minnesota, Republican Norm Coleman released a statement conceding the race, and congratulating Franken. Coleman said, “The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result.”

Coleman said, “Ours is a government of laws, not men and women. The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken and I respect its decision and will abide by the result. It’s time for Minnesota to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward. I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States Senator – Al Franken.”

He spoke about the need to focus on the future, “I have never believed that my service is irreplaceable. We have reached the point where further litigation damages the unity of our state, which is also fundamental. In these tough times, we all need to focus on the future. And the future today is we have a new United States Senator.”

The now former senator continued, “I congratulate Al Franken and his victory in this election. He now enjoys the advantage that our Congressional Delegation has over the other 525 people on Capitol Hill: he represents Minnesota. I know the great ideas, the amazing work ethic and the historic ability to come together to get things done in this state will help him greatly, as it has me.”

Some national Republicans were hoping that Coleman would keep fighting, and take his case to the US Supreme Court, but that would have been pointless. Every lower court had ruled against Coleman, so it was extremely unlikely that Supreme Court would rule in his favor. I understand his desire to fight this out, but Norm Coleman did do a disservice to the people of his state, by maintaining the endless challenges. He should have given this up months ago.

The one thing that we can all now be certain of is that Norm Coleman will challenge Al Franken in six years. Franken was able to ride the Obama wave to victory, so it will be interesting to see how he does when he runs on his own. The one benefit in this long delay for Franken is that he has had lots of time to prepare and hit the ground running. I don’t think Franken will be a great senator, but he should be a fine representative for the people of his state.

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Obama Quotes MLK to Voice Support for the Iranian People

Jun 20 2009 Published by under Featured News

Today President Barack Obama released a statement about the Iranian government’s violent actions against its own people. Interestingly, Obama used a quote from Martin Luther King to voice his support for the Iranian people. The quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Obama said, “The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.”

The not so subtle point to the Iranian people was sent by Obama through a Martin Luther King quote, “Martin Luther King once said – “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

The message that the president was trying to send was that Iranian people have to fight their own battle for basic rights. This is quite a change from the neo-con tactics of the Bush administration, which would have probably strongly gotten behind the protesters, while contemplating shifting troops from Iraq to Iran. I can’t believe that anyone is still touting the regime change doctrine, while the US is still propping up governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This statement also signaled to me the beginning of a shift in Obama’s statements towards Iran. If the violence continues to increase, I suspect that Obama will become more vocal in his support of human rights. As the issue surrounding these protests shifts from election fraud to calls for freedom, Obama will be able to more direct with his statements.

The worst thing that could happen for everyone involved except the regime would be a return to cowboy diplomacy. If Obama meddles in Iran, it would represent a complete contradiction of his stated policies. Obama is doing the right thing, by staying out of the domestic issues while pressuring Iran on human rights. Nothing short of threats and bombs will make the neo cons happy, but with the complete failure of all neo con policies, they lack credibility and should not be listened to.

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GOP Rep. Rohrabacher: Obama is a Cream Puff for not interfering in Iran

Jun 17 2009 Published by under Featured News

In an interview with Radio America’s Dateline Washington Rep. Dana Rohrabacher claimed that the Iranian people are protesting because they want a democracy and that President Obama is a cream puff for not interfering in Iran. Rohrabacher believes that the US is missing an opportunity in Iran that they need to be exploiting.

Rohrabacher said, “Well I think that Mr. Obama, if he continues to have these types of attitudes, we’re going to see things get very bad, very quickly. Already the North Koreans have challenged him and realized that he’s a cream puff, if that is what he is indeed going to be as a President, and there was no absolutely no response to their blatant nuclear weapons activity, and now if the Mullahs in Iran are permitted to just roll over opposition something like Tienanmen square, we will have missed a great opportunity, but it also means that we will pay a price for having radical Mullahs, they will be emboldened in the future.”

He continued, “The last thing you want to do is make is sound like these people are isolated that these people in the streets don’t have any backing. The strongest thing the President was able to say was the world is watching. Well, what the heck does that mean? That we are going to watch we’re and do nothing. What we need to do, is make sure, and I have already done this, I have had video taken that was sent all over Iran on the Internet that was distributed by some student organizations that basically I was telling the people of Iran that we’re with them. Be courageous. Don’t let this moment go by. Let’s seize the moment so that we can live in peace between the United States and Iran, and they can live in some kind of freedom instead of being terrorized by these cuckoo Mullahs.”

Rep. Rohrabacher demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of why the Iranians are protesting. They are protesting what they view as election fraud. They aren’t protesting for a Western style democracy. He doesn’t seem to get the fact that even if Mousavi would become president, the leadership and political power players would remain the same.

With his call for action, Rohrabacher is playing into the hands of a regime that is already trying to use American meddling as an excuse to delegitimize and crack down on the protesters. It is a neo-con pipe dream that the US government could facilitate regime change in Iran by supporting the protests. US support of the protests might kill any organic domestic movement for reform in Iran.

Obama is not a cream puff for demonstrating an understanding of Iranian politics and perception. The president is following the correct course of action, because despite what Rohrabacher says the protesters aren’t looking to get rid of Mullahs.

They are protesting a rigged election, and it is possible that protests could grow into a more serious movement, but Rohrabacher’s heavy handed strategy would be the fastest way to kill it.

(H/T: Think Progress)

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Hannity: Obama Refuses to Support Iranian Democracy

Jun 16 2009 Published by under Featured News

On The Sean Hannity Show today host Sean Hannity claimed that Obama has remained silent after the Iranian election, and thousands of people are growing outraged with Obama. Hannity said that Obama doesn’t want to make Adolf Jr. mad. The problem is that President Obama was on television this morning talking about….the Iranian election.

Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:

Hannity said, “It was funny that President Obama took credit on Friday for what looked like a historic upset in Iran sayinging that his speech in Cairo made the difference, well that now all appears that Ahmadinejad, Adolf Jr. as we call him, that he stole the election, and since then Obama is silent, and the outrage is now starting to build over the White House’s refusal to support Iranian democracy. Now apparently, there are hundreds of thousands of people now taking to the streets in Tehran angry over what’s happening here.”

Hannity said the White House doesn’t want to make Ahmadinejad angry, “In other words we don’t want to go out on a limb and take the wrong side of this. We don’t want to make Adolf Jr. mad. After all we wanted to negotiate with the guy without preconditions.”

However, here is video of Obama talking about the Iranian election this morning:

Obama said, “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling, the U.S. president meddling in Iranian elections. … I do believe that something has happened in Iran where there is, there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past, and that there are people that want to see greater openness and greater debate and want to see greater democracy.”

Does Hannity not watch the news? How can he claim that Obama is staying silent, when he was on TELEVISON this morning talking about the Iranian election? You know television Sean. You are on it every weeknight at 9 PM Eastern. Hannity’s comments are example of how desperate Republicans are to attach something negative to Obama.

They don’t care that the correct approach to take is one that avoids the appearance of meddling in the domestic affairs of another Middle Eastern country. People like Hannity are only interested in making Obama look weak, and uninterested in democracy. Obama’s comments on this situation demonstrate more insight about the Iran and the Middle East than the Bush administration ever showed.

The attitude in the majority of the GOP is still reflective of the Bush era cowboy diplomacy. We have already seen the results of this policy in Iraq and North Korea. It is a failed approach that is more interested in playing domestic politics with foreign policy, instead of doing the right thing for the United States.

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GOP Racism: African Americans Think Differently from Everyone Else

Jun 02 2009 Published by under Featured News

In a startling bit of racism, Manuel Miranda, a former aide to Republican Sen. Bill Frist told conservative bloggers that, “We aren’t like African Americans. We think like everyone else.” This begs the question, for Mr. Miranda how do African Americans think differently from everyone else? I’d love an explanation.

At the Heritage Foundation, Miranda said, “Hispanic polls, Hispanic surveys, indicate that Hispanics think just like everyone else. We’re not like African-Americans. We think just like everybody else. When I was on the leader’s staff, someone called me once and asked me: ‘What’s Senator Frist’s Hispanic agenda?’ I said, ‘low taxes, better education, more jobs … what are you talking about?’ And that’s how Hispanics are. This is an opportunity to educate them on all of our issues and they will resonate in the way that they resonate with everyone else.”

Miranda was discussing how Republicans can argue against Sonia Sotomayor without alienating Hispanic voters, when he managed to slip in that racist jab. Do Asian-Americans think differently from everyone else too? How about Native Americans? Who is everyone else? Miranda’s entire point was lost the second he let out his inner racist.

Is this the way that some Republicans think of Barack Obama? Does the president think differently because he is half African-American? Even though, Miranda himself is Hispanic, he is ignoring reality. Hispanics will never come back to the GOP until Republicans adjust their hard line stance on immigration.

When Republicans started treating Hispanic immigrants like criminals, they lost the Hispanic vote. There is a way to argue against Sotomayor without offending anyone. The GOP should drop the racial and gender attacks, and stick to discusses her record and judicial philosophy. However, Rush Limbaugh and the right wing media are going to continue to put the Republicans in an impossible position, and Sotomayor will be easily confirmed.

(H/T: Think Progress)

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Democrats Promise to Deliver a Healthcare Bill before the End of summer

May 30 2009 Published by under Featured News

Powerful Senate Democrats Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy released a joint statement today saying that they will have a healthcare reform bill ready before the Senate takes its August recess. The fact that Baucus, who opposes single payer, released a statement with Kennedy is a clear sign that single payer is in trouble.

The statement said, “For both of us, reforming the nation’s health care system to cut cost, improve quality and provide affordable coverage remains the top priority on our two committees. We have worked together closely over many months and will continue to do so. We intend to ensure that our committees report similar and complementary legislation that can be quickly merged into one bill for consideration on the Senate floor before the August recess.”

The statement was issued in response to media speculation that Kennedy and Baucus, who is the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, have been at odds with each other over a single payer healthcare reform plan. Baucus has long been opposed to single payer, and Kennedy has been a long time advocate.

The details of the bill that Kennedy is working on include a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, and an expansion of Medicaid to include the uninsured who earn up to 500 times below poverty level. Baucus has long favored a mixed plan that heavily relies on private insurance. If Baucus and Kennedy could come together on a bill, this would single Democratic unity on the issue.

I think that having the bill done by the August recess is an ambitious goal. However, getting a bill done is only the start of the process. I suspect that unless the bill is very liberal it will have few Democratic defectors. It will still be difficult to healthcare passed and signed by the end of the year, but it is possible. The only thing that could trip up the bill is if Democrats get caught up in an Party feud over the details of the bill.

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