Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

 
“That’s the funny thing about ceasing to compromise in public. It can make it more likely that you actually get a compromise in private.” — Ezra Klein, Washington Post

 

By JC
Wonkblog’s Ezra Klein hit on something today that I have been harping about consistently over the years. And that is how a politician goes about compromising. Or maybe it is better said, how a politician goes about signaling his willingness to compromise, and how that compromise may be structured:

During the debt-ceiling negotiations, the Obama administration offered the Republicans two concessions that Democrats really didn’t like: A cut to Social Security, through a mechanism known as “chained-CPI,” and a lift in Medicare’s eligibility age. The administration was expected to make both concessions part of the debt-reduction package it plans to announce next week. Now, it looks as if neither item will appear in the final plan. And the reason why is best explained by comparing two New York special elections that went very, very differently for the Democrats.

Andy Hammond thought he was being smart by bringing up the Dem’s loss of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in a special election on tuesday. Well, of course, there is an example of republicans similarly losing a seat recently in an upstate NY district that was heavily republican in a special election. Both incumbents were caught in sex scandals. Both were in districts that were heavily weighted in their favor. So why did both incumbent parties lose?
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By JC

Ok, if you pay attention to politics at all, you know that: 1) anything Obama supports publicly will be met with a big “NO” from the right; 2) the economy is in the tank, and there is no meaningful job growth happening; and 3) next week the President is giving another speech on jobs. And there’s a web full of speculation and commentary about it (276,000 search returns for “obama jobs speech” as of this writing!).

So let the armchair politickin’ begin. Consider this an open thread. Here are the rules:

  • What should Obama say?
  • What do you think he will say?
  • What do you see as politicly viable jobs proposals?
  • Do presidential speeches have any value, and if so, what ?
  • Place no blame and no personal attacks. It gets this debate nowhere.

If this feels like a PoliSci 101 first day of class essay/debate exercise, it sort of is — it is very similar to one I heard of this week, as college opened. Have fun!

By JC

“A New Foundation”
er, “Winning the Future”
er, “Put Country Before Party”
er…

I don’t know about you guys, but I see some problems in the Prez’s messaging:

President Obama told a crowd at a battery plant in Holland, Michigan, this afternoon that Republicans must “find a way to put country ahead of party…”

Underlining the takeaway of Obama’s speech today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer tweeted: “Key element from today’s remarks — Put Country before Party.

Obama’s new slogan, “Put Country before Party,” is awfully close to Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ari., failed 2008 presidential slogan “Country First.”

After telling Congress to “Put Country before Party” Obama is scheduled to fly to New York City where he will raise money for the Democratic Party at the Ritz Carlton.”

Go get ’em tiger! What can be more ‘merican than raising campaign funds at the Ritz? Right after you admonished republicans to be patriots and adopted their sloganeering tactics for your own. Is that what you mean by “putting country before party”?. Wow!

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by jhwygirl

First a brief recap: Boehner submitted a budget proposal after he walked away – very publicly – Monday night after President Obama’s speech. His said his bill would save $1.2 trillion, but yesterday, CBO came back with it scored as saving only about $850 billion. So Boehner – who had scheduled the thing for a floor vote Wednesday night – had to pull it due to the disappointing results.

Dems, for their part, had submitted a plan that they said would save “almost $3 trillion.” CBO scored it and – just like the Republican plan – it came back shy of its touted amount: only $2.2 trillion.

For all the tough-talking Boehner and Cantor and Paul have done on the budget, and for the dismissive review they’ve given of anything coming from the other side of the aisle, I’da thought those Einstein’s would have been a little closer. I mean – they didn’t even hit the the $1 trillion point.

Beyond that, Boehner’s bill relied largely on caps on discretionary spending and the interests savings that would have resulted. Boehner tells the nation Monday night that he’ll save the budget crisis – that government is too big – and by Wednesday he’s handed over some sophmoric bill that doesn’t (a) meet the numbers he put out and (b) – more importantly so given all his caucus’ tough talk – doesn’t do any shrinking of government. Doesn’t offer any real reform. Liar. Hypocrite.

But getting back to the topic at hand…

The GOP had a little coaching session last night due to the disappointing review the CBO gave to Boehner’s budget bill. The highlight of the session was a clip from the movie The Town when one thug (played by Ben Affleck) says to another “we’re gonna hurt some people,” and then they proceed to bludgeon two men and then shoot one. In hockey masks.

This link will take you to the full clip – it can not be embedded.

After viewing the clip, Florida Republican and outspoken freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. stood up and said, “I’m ready to drive the car,” surprising even many Republicans.

Ben Affleck was asked what he though – here it is, directly from Huffington Post:

(I)n a statement his spokesperson provided to The Huffington Post, he suggested that Republicans use a different one of his movies next time they need to whip votes.

“I don’t know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation,” said the actor, who is currently in Turkey directing and starring in “Argo,” an adaptation of the Tehran hostage crisis. “But if they’re going to be watching movies, I think “The Company Men” is more appropriate.”

That latter Affleck flick focuses on the plight of middle age men who have been laid off during the recession. (One of them, depressed about being unemployed, later kills himself.)

I wrote yesterday about corporate America thumbing their nose at us unwashed masses?

Last night, the GOP did the exact same thing. Then they beat the crap out of us with baseball bats.

And cheered.

By JC

Many people, myself included, believe that the current turn of democratic party ideals to one of austerity in the face of crippling unemployment and vastly widening wealth inequity represents a capitulation to right-wing hysteria over the deficit.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi puts the cap on most dem’s credibility in Congress by appeasing the clarion calls for austerity:

“It is clear we must enter an era of austerity; to reduce the deficit through shared sacrifice.

The arguments against austerity in the time of crippling high unemployment are legion. But our Congress continues to fall victim to hostage negotiations over the kidnapping of the economy by right-wing ideologues. And Congress is willing to submerge the country in an economic ideology that has no basics in reality–that is that our country suffers from a crisis in confidence due to the level of its debt, instead of focusing on the real crux of our economic crisis, which is lack of consumer demand and it’s companion raging high unemployment levels.

But it isn’t my intent here to derail my post with “peripheral” economic arguments. It is to raise the question: is President Obama ready to man up to the right and invoke the 14th Amendment clause intended to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt? Or is it game over? And if it is game over, what are lefties going to do in a political era that has left them no mainstream representation?
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“So we’ve shown ourselves willing to do the tough stuff on an issue that Republicans ran on.”

By JC

With those words, Barack Obama set the tone (or set his feet in stone) for his news conference on July 22nd, 2011, after Speaker of the House John Boehner (again) walked out on negotiations to resolve (er, make the “sell” on) the nation’s impending debt ceiling “nuclear option.”

Doing the right’s dirty work for them: President Obama offered to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by 650 billion dollars so that we can “have a conversation” about how to invest in and “win the future.”

“We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic put the cuts this way:

“And it was a deal that, like Obama’s previous offers, was strikingly tilted towards Republican priorities. Among the provisions to which Obama had said yes, according to a senior administration official, were the following:

Medicare: Raising the eligibility age, imposing higher premiums for upper income beneficiaries, changing the cost-sharing structure, and shifting Medigap insurance in ways that would likely reduce first-dollar coverage. This was to generate about $250 billion in ten-year savings. This was virtually identical to what Boehner offered.

Medicaid: Significant reductions in the federal contribution along with changes in taxes on providers, resulting in lower spending that would likely curb eligibility or benefits. This was to yield about $110 billion in savings. Boehner had sought more: About $140 billion. But that’s the kind of gap ongoing negotiation could close.

Social Security: Changing the formula for calculating [decrease] cost-of-living increases in order to reduce future payouts. The idea was to close the long-term solvency gap by one-third, although it likely would have taken more than just this one reform to produce enough savings for that.”

Presidential Jujitsu 101: Make republicans offers they can’t refuse, knowing they’ll refuse. Make your supporters think you’ve got your fingers crossed behind your back. Then attempt some damage control by giving the left a lesson in conservative economics:

“…If you’re a progressive you should want to get our fiscal house in order, because once we do, it allows us to then have a serious conversation about the investments that we need to make… It’s a lot easier to do that when we’ve got our fiscal house in order. And that was an argument that I was willing to go out and make to a lot of skeptical Democrats…”
–Barack Obama at news presser July 22nd, 2011

My question to you Mr. President is this: Have you gotten to the point where you are willing to lead (as a traditional liberal democrat) yet?

Or is your idea of “leading” telling the left how to think, and then just offering to “talk” about the future? First let’s get the big cuts to entitlements out of the way, then let’s sit down for some decaf to talk about what to do next.

Why, that kind of attitude will really help you get reelected! Not to mention losing the senate to close campaigns in swing states.

Hooray for the jujitsu that provides the cover for all the Obamabots to project their progressive wish lists into your vacuous pronouncements so they can go on their merry way bashing the “principled left” and emoprogs as the root of all that is wrong in American politics when it all goes awry.

Yeah right, Mr. President. Like the right is going to let that be anything more than just talk, talk, talk, hope, hope, hope, and the only change the middle class, the elderly and the poor will see is the pennies, nickels and dimes (and a bunch of lint) left in their pockets as their sacrifices are shared with the wealthy and corporations via their tax breaks.

Anybody else hoping for someone to come along and primary Barack Obama? Or have presidential 2-party politics and primaries truly become worthless? Are democrats fine with a Reagan Democrat at the helm of their party as we witness the emergence of the 21st century neoliberal version of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama’s self-avowed hero?

I’ll leave you all with some words from President Obama that he wrote recently in USA Today:

“When the future looked darkest and the way ahead seemed uncertain, President Reagan understood both the hardships we faced and the hopes we held for the future. He understood that it is always “Morning in America.” That was his gift, and we remain forever grateful.”

Yes, Barack Obama channeling “Morning in America.” Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy right now?
[/rant]
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Consider this a nice weekend open thread on the brinksmanship coming out of Washington D.C.

And if you want some light weekend reading, here’s the Time article on Obama’s “Reagan Bromance.”

Barack loves Ronnie

Do I detect a legacy in the offing???

By JC

The PCCC released a poll that was conducted in several swing states in the last few months. I thought the results were pretty stark and clear, so I thought I’d give folks a chance to take a look at them.

I couldn’t find any graphs of this data, so I went ahead and abstracted out the Montana numbers and graphed them up. Not the best graph in the world, but good enough for discussion purposes. Raw numbers are at the link above.

Poll was taken April 27-30, 1,435 likely voters, 2.6% margin of error unless otherwise noted (for notes look at the raw numbers).

Consider this an open thread to discuss these numbers. If you click on the graph, you’ll get a larger version.

By CFS

Two days ago I posted something that people found offensive, vulgar, and homophobic. To anyone I may have inadvertently offended with my words i am truly sorry. I honestly didn’t realize it would be taken in that manner.

I didn’t stop to think, and filter out what might be offensive. I shot from the hip while my temper was up. Thank to those that informed me of my errors, I have learned a valuable lesson that I could only learn through making such a mistake.

Sen. Jon Tester supports anti-immigrant policies and impedes immigration reform.

A guest post by Helena Immigration Attorney, Shahid Haque-Hausrath, posted by Jamee Greer

Jon Tester (D-MT) is facing a tough run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, but he just keeps giving progressives more reasons not to vote for him. His track record on immigration issues has been abysmal, as I’ve written about before. Make no mistake about it — Tester is probably the worst Democrat in the Senate on the issue of immigration, and he is one of the most vocal. The way he talks about the issue, you would think Montana wasn’t one of the states with the least number of immigrants in the whole country.

Despite outrage over his despicable vote against the DREAM Act, Tester hasn’t decided to leave immigration policy to states that actually have a dog in the fight. You won’t see him bragging about his DREAM Act vote, mind you — after all, Daily Kos famously called him an “asshole” for that reprehensible vote, and he doesn’t want to rekindle the ire of the netroots crowd. However, he has continued to make his anti-immigrant positions a core part of his campaign, jumping at every opportunity to link immigration to national security concerns. For instance, when a college in California was found to be enrolling foreign students without proper accreditation, Tester quickly issued a press release noting that “several of the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had entered the country using student visas.”

Recently, Jon Tester put up two web pages on the issue of immigration that are so ignorant you would think Tester locked anti-immigrant zealots Mark Krikorian and John Tanton in a room with a bottle of whiskey and posted whatever they came up with.

In fact, these two immigration pages are so wrong-headed that they require some analysis and interpretation to fully make sense of them. One web page outlines his unsophisticated view of the immigration issue in four paragraphs. His other page lists his immigration “accomplishments.” (By accomplishments, Tester seems to mean ways he has screwed immigrants and wasted federal money.) I’ll review both of the pages together.

Jon’s position on immigration is simple: people who wish to immigrate to the United States must follow the rules, and we must enforce them. That’s why Jon opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

During his first year as Senator, Jon helped put a stop to a bill that would have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants living in the United States.

Jon voted in 2007 to defeat the Immigration Reform Bill, telling his colleagues, “We don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.”

Where do we start? Polls have consistently shown that the people think our immigration system is broken and want some form of immigration reform. The last time our immigration laws were substantively changed was in 1996, and almost everyone agrees that those changes were ineffective — in fact, they created more problems than they solved. People are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to act, and don’t believe that “enforcement only” solutions are going to work. As a result of the federal government’s inertia, states like Arizona, Utah, and Georgia have begun to enact their own immigration policies, which raise significant constitutional concerns including due process violations and racial profiling. While I strongly oppose state level enforcement of immigration laws, and I believe that these state laws are misguided, it is difficult to fault the states for at least trying to take action when the federal government will not.

Yet, Jon Tester considers it an “accomplishment” that he has ignored the will of the public and done absolutely nothing to fix our immigration system. In fact, he is proud that he helped derail immigration reform in 2007, and has continued to sabotage efforts to reform our immigration laws. It’s nice that he sets the bar so low for himself, but the rest of the country is expecting a little more.

Tester refuses to acknowledge that our system needs to be fixed, stating “we don’t need hundreds of pages of expensive new laws when we can’t even enforce the ones we’ve already got on the books.” The problem, of course, is that our system is broken and we need to reform our laws in order to more effectively enforce them. Current immigration reform proposals aim to increase enforcement on the border and interior of the country, but recognize that in order to curb undocumented immigration we also need to fix some of our laws that are creating the problems in the first place. For instance, our laws include huge gaps in coverage, where many family members have no reasonable opportunity to immigrate legally to the United States. Among other things, reform proposals would open new paths to family-based immigration that were causing needless undocumented immigration.

Tester remains willfully obtuse in his opposition to so-called “amnesty” for immigrants who lack lawful status. “Amnesty” means a general pardon for an offense against the state, but Tester uses the term “amnesty” to refer to any changes in the law that would create a path to legalization — even if the path is strenuous and imposes a strict set of requirements. He even used the term amnesty to refer to the DREAM Act, which would have created a seven (or more) year path towards citizenship for men and women who serve our country in the military or go to college. There is no “amnesty” on the table, and there hasn’t been for years. Instead, what is being proposed is a way for immigrants who are already here to earn their way back into lawful status by paying fines, back taxes (if they haven’t already been paying like most immigrants), and potentially even community service. After all, even Newt Gingrich understands that it is not realistic to deport all of the 11 million people who are here without status.

Finally, comprehensive immigration reform won’t be expensive, as Tester states, but will actually increase wages for all workers and improve our economy. Time and again, it has been proven that spending money on border security alone, without any other changes to our laws, is untenable and ineffective. Nevertheless, Tester has chosen to advocate these “enforcement only” solutions.

Instead [of immigration reform], Jon has focused his energy on boosting security along America’s borders, particularly our northern border with Canada. From his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

That same year, Jon introduced and passed into law a measure requiring the Homeland Security Department to report on weaknesses along the northern border and develop a plan for improving northern border security.

So let me get this straight: Instead of working for immigration reform to help the entire country, Tester is pushing for huge government expenditures to protect us from Canada? It is foolish to tout Canadian border security as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, because it is clear that the risks from an unmonitored northern border have almost nothing to do with the larger immigration problems our country is facing.

While the GAO issued a report stating that Department of Homeland Security needs to work better with other agencies and partners along the northern border, the GAO didn’t endorse Tester’s crusade to spare no expense to “secure” the border. Indeed, the GAO previously pushed back on claims about insecurity on the northern border.

Nevertheless, Tester is so eager to appear strong on immigration enforcement that he managed to get an appropriation for military grade radars on the Canadian border. He also wants to expand the use of unmanned drones (and they are already being used in some areas). Those radars and drones would have come in handy last year, when I helped a Canadian kid who got lost and accidentally drove his ATV across the border.

As George Ochenski put it: “For most Montanans, the border with Canada has never been and likely will never be seen as a threat. After all, the U.S. and Canada share the longest border on the continent, and it has been our ally in world wars as well as regional conflicts. It’s also our largest trading partner and our closest, largest and most secure source of oil. Treating Canada as some variant of Pakistan’s border is, in a word, insulting to both Montanans and our Canadian friends.”

Jon was the only Senate Democrat to put his name on legislation pumping new resources into border protection for new technology and new border patrol officers. Jon cosponsored the measure after securing a pledge that a certain percentage of those new resources would be spent along the northern border.

Here’s a tip for Tester’s staffers: When you’re the only Democrat to put your name on a piece of legislation, its probably nothing to brag about. The bill that Tester is referring to is actually a corollary to one that was introduced by his opponent, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT). Jon Tester partnered up with Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-AZ), among other Republicans, to co-sponsor a $3 million amendment. This bill also funded construction of the fence along the Mexican border — a project that has been abandoned and condemned as a tremendous failure and waste of billions in taxpayer dollars.

And from his seat on the influential Appropriations Committee, Jon has secured investments to combat the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, as well as critical investments upgrading Ports of Entry along the Canadian border.

One of Tester’s “critical upgrades” was a $15 million dollar renovation to the border station in Whitetail, MT, which was reported to get about five crossings a day and no commercial traffic. After facing criticism for needless spending, Tester and Max Baucus reduced the appropriation to only $8.5 million. Meanwhile, Canadian officials closed the road leading to this border station, rendering the whole project useless. This embarrassing episode didn’t make Tester’s list of accomplishments.

Of course, even though he votes against any legislation that isn’t directed purely towards deporting immigrants, Tester wouldn’t want you to get the impression that he is against immigration:

Jon knows that legal immigrants, like his grandparents, helped build America into what it is today. But he also believes that no one is above the law.

In public statements and constituent letters, Tester is constantly stating that his grandparents “waited in line” and followed the rules, implying that new immigrants should be expected to follow the same process. However, it appears that Tester’s ancestors entered the country in 1916 — before our current immigration system even existed. At that time, our immigration policy was comparable to an “open border” policy. Years later, quotas were enacted to limit immigration and more stringent criteria for entry were developed. It was not until 1965 that the current Immigration and Nationality Act was enacted, with its very limited methods for gaining permanent residence in the U.S.

There is no question that Jon Tester’s ancestors faced a dramatically different immigration system than those who are immigrating today. Tester and other enforcement advocates often evoke the image of a “line” that immigrants must simply wait in. However, the truth is that for most immigrants, there is no “line.” Tester’s own grandparents may not have been able to enter the country under our current immigration scheme.

Jon Tester seems intent on mimicking Rehberg in many ways, including sharing his anti-immigrant views.

Jon Tester’s vocal anti-immigrant positions have placed Montana progressives in a difficult position. Contrary to the attacks of those who want to silence any opposition to Tester’s bad policies, none of us are excited about the prospect of his opponent, Dennis Rehberg, being elected to the Senate. Indeed, Rehberg’s stance on immigration is no better than Tester’s. However, Tester’s ignorant views on immigration are also making it impossible for us to lend him our vote.

Tester’s positions on immigration are not gaining him support with Republicans, but they are causing a split among Democrats. The best thing for Jon Tester to do is distance himself from the issue of immigration, because each time he opens his mouth, he brings many progressives closer to sending a difficult message: The progressive movement cannot tolerate a Democrat who has an anti-immigrant agenda, regardless of the consequences.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath blogs about local immigration issues at Border Crossing Law Blog.

by Lesley Lotto

Oh damn Tim Pawlenty, a devout Christian, is waiting until Monday to announce he’s running for President in 2012.  Joy and #Rapture.  I mean, couldn’t he have announced tonight?  Then I could have watched him on Fox and had his voice lull me to sleep.  I would like to go with everyone else in a peaceful manner and I cannot think of a more boring person to listen to as a take my last wink. snore… If the world really is ending tomorrow, as Harold Camping tells us, why would Pawlenty wait until Monday for his big announcement?

Yes, the former two-term Governor of Minnesota has announced he’s going up against Obama.  You know the President who recently pissed off the right by declaring there should be borders up in Israel like before the “Six Day war”.  (For you non-Jews, that’s one important war.)  As a Jewish person, I find it way offensive when Christians, I’m talking to you Glenn Beck, get all hoity toity about what should be done in Israel and how the US has it all wrong.  George W. knew what to do, but Obama, the Muslim, he knows not.  But I digress…

Pawlenty is believed to be the only serious candidate for the Republican party.  Hell Newt Gingrich’s “campaign” has already taken a death spiral.  (Have you seen that Gay Confetti video?)  Pawlenty could have run for a third term as Governor with his tidy record of conservatism, the not raising taxes and the being against abortion, except for those pesky core issues he mulled for a minute like raising taxes on cigarettes to balance his state budget and that nasty moment he considered Cap and Trade legislation. Then there’s the 5 Billion Dollar Budget hole he left for the new Governor and his taking of Stimulus Dollars from the Fed, what a thing!

Now Sarah Palin has reared her gorgeous mug and mane again, not wanting to stay out of the limelight for even a second, to say, “I’ve got the fire in my belly”.  Oh holy hell, she’s pregnant again?  No, and damn, she’s just toying with a run in 2012.  She wants to stay in the conversation, dontcha know.  After all why would she let Pawlenty  (a really tangible VP candidate pairing for McCain back in 2008) get all of the attention from the “Elite Media”?

Palin and her co-hort, Rep. Michelle Bachman also of Minnesota, oh please let the two of them run on the same ticket, are both considering a run in 2012.  But who could be the running mate when they both have the fire in the belly and all?  Bachman is loved by the “Tea Party” and Palin is loved by angry, old white men.  You know the type that will fondle themselves tonight to the likes of a threesome with Bachman and Palin before the world ends.

Meanwhile, Obama is getting down with the serious issues of our time and has no time for the nonsense of this all.  But then again if the world DOES end tomorrow, why would he care?

by LesleyLotto

3 years ago Senator Barack Obama was little known by most people.  He was a U.S. Senator from Illinois who gave a kick-ass speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention, so Hillary Clinton told us.  I was comfortably on the John Edwards bus back then, that face, that message, the hair.  Be still my bleeding, liberal heart.  Hillary was shrill and arrogant with her “It’s 3 A-M” message.  And who remembers the other 9 candidates in the Democratic Party anyway.  But who’s this Barack Obama?  What do we know about him after all?  What audacity he has thinking that after only 2 years-ish in office he could become President of the United States (POTUS).  I always kind of admired John McCain as the Maverick, you know – the guy from the Republican party who walked the talk.  Mitt Romney looked like he was a waffler before we knew he was a waffler.  C’mon, who admits they hunt grouse as a sport anyway?  Mike Huckabee, likable enough, but a tad too Christian for this Jew. I literally forgot all of the other candidates because they were so dull.  Well John Edwards turned out to be a big fat lying disappointment that the National Enquirer outed for sexing it up with, well, words cannot express.  Hillary Clinton – still shrill, now add lying to that, and her husband, oh Bill, really, where to begin.  Then there’s the Maverick, who’s not a Maverick anymore, he’s a meandering, near-senile man hanging onto his glory days that he can barely remember, who slides in a Vice Presidential candidate, a hot mess of a woman, nobody know,s but we all want to take to bed with a nice tourniquet outfitted snugly around her mouth.  Maybe even camouflage in color?  Barack Obama came out of nowhere, with the “Hope”, the “Change”, and the “Yes We Can”.  But still, we know nothing about him.  Where was he born with that name?  And so it begins…

After McCain imploded in 2008 during the worst economic crisis in modern history, Obama slid into victory.  The first Black man to be elected to the highest office in the land.  Tears flowed freely around the world when he was elected.  But then he took office and his first order of business as POTUS was to put together a decent administration (slim pickins round here, might as well find me some old Clinton hangerson),  create jobs and fix the reputation of the United States, which had been so badly tarnished by the administration before. And oh yeah, maybe fix the economy while you’re at it.  The first few little bits of business were okay, passing some equal pay legislation, which has done exactly nothing, passing a massive Healthcare Reform Bill and another Bailout or two for whoever cares to further screw with our economy and announce the closure of the notorious Guantanamo Bay Prison.  Little did poor POTUS know the mean ol’ Republican party would stand at every door putting their palm up to anything remotely  Bi-partisan while crying “Oh, No you di-n’t”.  They also cried, wait, “where were you born again”? or “No, the American people didn’t vote for THAT kind of change”.  The Liberals were also crying, what happened to Single Payer Health Insurance, what happened to my 401k, what happened to the war in Iraq, wait, what, you’re putting more troops in Afghanistan? Then all the independents and liberals ran screaming from the room and took another look at the Republicans, maybe they’re not so bad or maybe they just plugged their noses and voted them back in to take the ever-incompetent, weenie of a Democratic party off their throne in the House of Reps.

What’s a poor liberal to do?  The mean ol’ Republicans are creating (well not really creating, but fomenting) a frustrating, lying, cheating, brickwall of a party who are doing exactly nothing for the American people and the POTUS seems to be cowering in the corner, shivering under the mist of I told you so’s.  Time to bring in David Plouffe to save the day!  He’ll make the President’s message more Badass.   But Plouffe doesn’t do that at all, he hides in the corner with the POTUS devising a plan to walk tall and maintain his lackluster ratings.  Hey, at least they didn’t fall to where “W” was when he left office.  Some of those way over on the left were already holding caucuses to find a contender to run against Obama in 2012, then it happened, something to really make them bleed, ANOTHER war.  Oh my!  After several uprisings in the Middle East, the attacks on civilians, the murder and public rape of journalists and the toppling of a leader or two, the POTUS does the unfathomable, he jumps into a war with Libya, but claims we’re not at war, really.  The blood-thirsty leader of that country now has a rag-tag team of “Rebels” fighting against him and they’re not so far removed from the 2002 “insurgents” in Iraq.  John McCain calls the Rebels his heroes and all is right in the world.  So POTUS with his big, bad multi-kazillion dollar army blasts into Libya to oust Colonel Ghaddafi, but only for two days, “then we’re gone”.  All the while the Republicans, while weeks earlier chided the President for not intervening in Libya, now complain, it’s too late, and oh my yes, “where’s that birth certificate?”.

Then walks in the savior for an entire country, the host of an NBC Reality Show who says, he’ll be the best damn president this country has ever seen, says he too wants to see that missing birth certificate and oh wait, does anybody have a comb?  He spouts off all kinds of foreign policy expertise like he once talked to the Colonel in Libya about a real estate deal on a 6 bedroom tent.

Meanwhile the country people are sufficiently confused because a majority of them say they might just vote for the Reality Show star instead of Mr. Hope and Change.  Then it happens, out of nowhere the President pulls his “long-form” birth certificate out from under his hat, swoops into Libya and kills the Colonel’s son and 3 grandchildren, visits the Tornado decimated south, delivers a hilarious speech at this years “Geek Prom” that makes the Reality Star’s crazy comb-over hair blow back onto his wife’s botoxed forehead with a grin, then coolly let’s his people know the most notorious terrorist the world has probably ever known has been murdered on his order, following his death plan, WAIT, WHAAAA? Back up, yo!

I’m still happily back in March wondering why I voted for this guy when all of the sudden his Hope and Change steel balls descend and the angels start singing and the butterflies of spring are flying and I’m all slathered up in his Hope and Change juice again. Then the POTUS sends an email to all important News organizations who still deliver fair, accurate, truthful, objective and impartial news telling them to get to work and not to worry about the who, what, where, when and why.  His balls descend further as he interrupts the Reality Star’s Show to make the Steel Bally announcement that Osama Bin Laden has been killed.  A picture surfaces of the bloody room where the dirty deed happened and another of the POTUS and his National Security team where Obama’s determined and Hillary looks like she might puke (it might have been about 3 A-M in Pakistan when it all ended Ms. Clinton ;)).  The Republicans limply praise our leader’s moves, then go on Fox News demanding pictures and death certificates and videos and first borns and pieces of helicopters and DNA samples.

But after all he’s been through in this one silly weekend, the POTUS maintains the cool character that is he and of which we’ve been disdaining and tells them all to go back to work before he sends the newly minted head of the Democratic Party Debbie Wasserman-Schultz down to ruin their 2012 dreams.  So I admit I’ve been waffling, but now “I’m In”.  My President’s badass.

By CFS

It would seem that we in America are once again experiencing a kumbaya moment in which we all hug, hold hands, and say things like “America, Fuck Yeah!” and chant “USA, USA.” All because of the killing of one man. But in watching the news reports of celebrations taking place outside of the White House and where the twin towers used to grace the skyline of NYC, I couldn’t help but see parallels between how some Americans reacted and how some Muslims reacted after 9/11.

When we were surprised by this:

Some in the Muslim world reacted like this:

In many respects we couldn’t understand why there would be anybody in the world that would be happy with an attack on America. We collectively scratched our heads seeking answers to why people hated us. And because we have no understanding of history, of cause and effect, we smugly came to the conclusion that it was because they hate our freedom, or that Islam was simply a naturally violent and barbaric religion.

Yet when we final got revenge with this:

Some in America reacted like this:

Now, I’m not saying that the attacks that occurred on September 11th and the killing of Osama Bin Laden are equivalent acts of violence. The people in the Twin Towers were innocent, Osama had crimes to pay for. The deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting people on that morning can not be rationalized, while Osama had to have known what fate held in store for him, he knew he was a hunted man. Otherwise, he would not have been hiding out in a high security compound. Osama Bin Laden deserved to be punished for his actions, to be brought to justice for the atrocities he set in motion.

But what the two events share is their symbolism. The attacks on 9/11 weren’t so much aimed at the people in those buildings as they were the symbols of American strength, both financial and martial. Osama struck at the heart of our empire, attempting to unveil the corruption and moral degradation that lies at the core of our world spanning reach. Our strike this weekend, cutting off the head of Al Qaeda, was just as symbolic. We proved that no matter how long we have to wait or how far we have to go, America will hunt down every last terrorist and we will show no mercy. There will be no day in court for the likes of Osama Bin Laden. Others like him will be put down like the dogs that they are.

News that we got Osama was an emotional release… an end to a chapter in our current American story. But for all the celebrating there needs to be a more focused and inward reflection of what this event really means for our current situation. And my guess would be that beyond the symbolism, beyond the feel good moment, little will change. Our quest for hegemony will continue unabated and the world’s reaction to such a geopolitical reality will continue.

I’ll leave you with this somber reflection…

By Duganz

Two videos, two nights, two reasons that Obama had the best weekend ever.

Saturday, he grabs laughs and makes one hell of a reference to The Lion King.

Sunday, well, he cemented his reelection, and made Donald Trump shit himself.

I made some baked potato soup… so, ya know, I did that.

Okay, I’m not exciting. But at least I’m not a Republican tonight. How’s it feel guys?

By CFS

In all this ongoing back and forth between the liberal/progressive/Democrat blogs of Montana (the Great Flame War of 2011) one point that is yet to be made is the differing approach that the two parties seem to deal with internal dissent.  One party gives the impression of eagerly embracing the mutiny… while the other is trying to quickly stomp out the fire before it can spread.

What started as a grassroots movement from outside the ramparts of a party historically known for it’s discipline in pulling it’s member into line on issues; the Tea People’s anger, enthusiasm, and naivety was quickly capitalized upon by the Republican establishment and old guard power base.  Organizations that, at first ad-hoc groups meeting at coffee shops bitching about how the Republicans had betrayed their ideals, were quickly provided with organizational support, funds, and training from long-time Republican political operatives.  Nation-wide organizations were built by the likes of Dick Army and elected Republicans such as Michele Bachmann embraced the mass of angry white people produced by a steady diet of Fox News.

Now that the Tea People are well ensconced in the warm and loving embrace of the GOP guess what happens whenever the Tea People get all uppity?  Thats right… Boehner quickly folds and make overtures to please his new far right base.

Contrast this with the current approach that the mainline Democrats seem to want to take when dealing the more progressive/liberal/whatever side of the party…

This attitude comes straight from the top as Obama and his press secretary have said more than once that they are tired of the criticism coming from the left.  Other Democrats have used this type of language, calling liberals “extremists.”

 The same attitude has been on display recently on various Montana progressive blogs.  Pogie actually did a great job of getting to the issue and fostering a discussion around the role of dissension within a political party in shaping policy and strategy.  Others however have been eager to follow the STFU guidelines.  From LITW:

Here’s the dealio.  Democrats still have value.  I like Jon Tester, even more for taking action on wolf control dictated by the judiciary.  Don’t like that?  Tough shit.  Leave.  I like Barrack Obama.  I think he called out the Republicans and has played them very well.  Don’t like that?  Tough shit.  Leave.  Seriously.  You don’t like Democrats?  Leave, assholes.

The problem with the STFU/your-either-with-us-or-against-us type attitude is that people really do leave.  People will choose to vote for third party candidate like Nader when they get frustrated enough which then gives us 8 years of THE ADVENTURES OF BUSHIT AND TURD BLOSSOM .

If a party doesn’t listen to internal dissent and respond to the criticism by addressing people’s grievances then people leave.  The Republicants were electorally successful in the last cycle specifically because they embraced the crazy hidden within themselves and physically manifested as the Tea People.

Do we really want to put this at the entrance to the Democratic party?

by Pete Talbot

You get who you vote for

Montana’s PSC is one of the most important government bodies we have in this state. As the banner at its website reveals: energy, telecommunications, water/sewer, transportation and pipeline safety are all under its purview. Since last November’s elections and the new 3-2 Republican majority, the commission has been in turmoil. The latest dust up is being well chronicled by Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, and by the Great Falls Tribune, Lee Newspapers and the Associated Press.

But since the voters decided to return the incendiary “rogue commissioner”* Brad Molner to the commission, and replace utility expert and consumer advocate Ken Toole with utility owner Bill Gallagher, well, what do you expect?

The jury is still out on Travis Kavulla.

* Attributed to PSC Commissioner Gail Gutsche.

Denny’s going down

Rep. Denny Rehberg toed the Tea Party line when he voted against House Resolution 1473, the congressional compromise that cut $38 billion but kept the government up and running.

From the L.A. Tribune’s Washington Bureau:

The bill approved by the House and Senate Thursday will fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year on Sept. 30, cutting $38 billion from environmental, health, education, job-training and other domestic programs. Despite the steep reductions, the measure didn’t go far enough for the House’s most conservative members, exposing divisions among Republicans. (Emphasis mine.)

It’s still early and anything could happen but if the Senate race isn’t already trending to Sen. Tester, I’d be surprised. Tester has been in the news a lot, lately: his wolf-delisting rider, veteran’s issues, and a wilderness bill (there are folks on both sides of the aisle upset with his wolf and wilderness stances, which indicate that they’re moderate positions). And Montanans, for the most part, are a moderate lot, which bodes well for Tester.

Rehberg has done nothing of note (besides casting Tea Party votes) and therefore hasn’t been getting much press, either good or bad, which goes to the old political axiom: I don’t care what you write about me, just spell my name right.

And I was so worried that Gadhafi would appear on the ballot

Some Montana legislators have offered up crazy stuff this session but most of the bills have died in committee, on the floor or have been vetoed by the governor. Not so in Arizona, where a bill promoted by the “birthers” is on the Arizona Governor’s desk awaiting her signature — and it’s possible the socially-conservative Republican governor will sign it. The bill demands proof of U.S citizenship before allowing presidential candidates on the ballot, and Arizona wants to see hospital records, baptismal certificates or circumcision records, along with other affidavits.

Always good to see that Montana’s legislature hasn’t cornered the market on wacky.

By JC

With President Obama’s speech on the budget and how to reduce the federal deficit hitting the headlines today, I thought I’d offer up a morsel of what the left has been thinking about in terms of deficit reduction and budgeting for people to consider as they ponder President Obama’s plan, and the right’s “Path to Prosperity” plan put forth by Rep. Ryan.

I’m not going to go into deep analysis or commentary about this yet, as I’ve just seen both–Obama’s and the House Progressive Caucus’ plans–but I thought it would be good for progressives to know that there is an alternative to Obama’s “balanced” approach to his left.

And I really don’t want to derail Pete’s nice sidelight on the WienerMobile!

Follow the jump to see the highlights of the People’s Budget, as put forth by the House Progressive Caucus.
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By CFS

In a sad flashback to the Bush era, it appears that an Obama Administration official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, is under pressure to resign over comments he recently made regarding the Libyan uprising.  While giving his testimony to a congressional hearing regarding the situation in Libya Clapper commented that Gaddafi’s, “regime will prevail,” in the longer term because of its superior firepower.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham immediately called for the Director’s resignation saying that, “his comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Gadhafi.”

Now… I don’t enjoy defending the intelligence community given human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, and blowback caused by their interference in other country’s sovereign affairs.  But Clapper hits the nail directly on the head with his assessment of what is happening in Libya.  The longer that Gaddafi has to re-consolidate his power, assault the rebels in the eastern half of the country, and practice realpolitik the more likely it is that he and his sons, will come out of this triumphant.

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by JC

“If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”

– Barack Obama, quoted by Slate, while making a campaign speech in 2007.
 
It’s winter, Mr. President. You might want to put on some warm boots… or is she a talkin’ ’bout you?


Hat tip to Matty at LitW for the quote!

SOTU 2011

by you-know-who

Thought I’d put up an open comment thread. Full text of speech below the fold.
Continue Reading »

Baucus Tasked to Work Out “Compromise” on Extending Tax Cuts for the Rich

By JC

Thanks to Big Swede Ingy, we have the theme for the upcoming battle over the Bush tax cuts. If you need a primer on this fight, you haven’t been paying attention, but I’ll start off this end-of-the-year debate with a nice little video that BoldProgressives.org just put out to put some pressure on President Obama to do the right thing.

We’re gearing up to have an old fashioned political donnybrook over the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. We’ll get to see the right wing’s avarice in full force–as so eloquently snarked by Big Ingy–while they forget all about their opposition to deficit spending when it comes to protecting their wealth and increasing income disparity, and push their greedy self-interest in an all out class warfare battle.

And President Obama, who so adamantly campaigned to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, is on the cusp of caving in, his administration hurling itself to the right to accommodate the latest meme that only a Reagan Democrat in the White House can get the people’s business done.

Yesterday, President Obama tasked his underlings to “work out a compromise:”

“Faced with a tough decision to make on the expiring Bush tax cuts, Congress and the White House did Tuesday what they do best: They passed the buck.

With the resolution to a fight Washington has known was coming for 10 years still hanging in the balance, a small group of legislators will meet with top executive-branch officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, sometime this week — perhaps as early as Wednesday — to hammer out a deal.

The lawmakers slated to attend include Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)…”

Max Baucus??? President Obama didn’t learn anything by handing over his Health Insurance Reform to Baucus, so now he’s going to hand over this issue to another Reagan Democrat millionaire to find a compromise?

Mr. President, your future rests with how you proceed. If you break your campaign promise to let the tax cuts for the rich expire, particularly when your opponent has already signaled his surrender, you do not deserve to have the support of the progressive base that put you into office. If you sign a bill that extends those tax cuts, even temporarily, you have signaled the end of your presidency, as the disaffection of your progressive base will solidify against you, assuring either your defeat in ’12, or the rise of a third party candidate that either will succeed, or that could throw the election to the republican and Sarah Palin.

It almost seems as if you don’t care if the country has a republican president and Congress in 2 years. Maybe you don’t…

By JC

While all eyes are focused on the upcoming elections and the big picture about the makeup of the next Congress, many people have been watching the undercurrents, reading the tea leaves for indications about the makeup of the 2012 republican primaries. While the common wisdom has Sarah Palin underperforming in a wide open republican primary, not everybody thinks the same. The CW goes like this, as Moorcat succinctly put it last week:

Palin stands zero chance to be the next president. In every poll run on a possible matchup for the 2012 election, Palin has been (at best) third behind Romney and Huckabee.

But in an article yesterday by John Heilemann in the NY Magazine, “2012: How Sarah Barracuda Becomes President,” he lays out the scenario:

1) The t-party pushes Sarah through to the republican nomination;
2) Obama’s popularity wanes even more amidst republican intransigence aimed to get Sarah Palin elected;
3) Michael Bloomberg enters the race as an independent, intent to assure that grownups (pragmatic centrists) persevere

Then all that needs to happen is the following (the first 2 scenarios being an Obama reelection or a Bloomberg upset):

But there is a third scenario, one that involves a more granular kind of analysis-cum-speculation. By the accounts of strategists in both parties, Bloomberg—especially with the help of his billions—would stand a reasonable chance of carrying New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, and California. Combine that with a strong-enough showing in a few other places in the industrial Northeast to deny Obama those states, and with Palin holding the fire-engine-red states of the South, and the president might find himself short of the 270 electoral votes necessary to win.

Assuming you still remember the basics from American Government 101, you know what would happen next: The election would be thrown to the House of Representatives—which, after November 2, is likely to be controlled by the Republicans. The result: Hello, President Palin!

Now, if you happen to be a Democrat, your first instinct might be to dismiss all of this as a dystopian anti-fantasy, or the kind of spook story told around a campfire, scary but ultimately harmless because it’s make-believe, or maybe the ravings of a madman. (I wouldn’t argue with that last one.) Certainly, it qualifies as far-fetched.

But, then, everything about Palin’s story is far-fetched: McCain’s selection of her as his running mate, her ascension after abruptly quitting the highest post she’d ever held, her status as one of the front-runners for her party’s presidential nomination. But here she is, a phenomenon nearly—nearly—unprecedented in modern politics, a figure so electrifying to the most hopped-up segment of her party that at times she seems unstoppable.

“She’s a supernova,” says McKinnon. “The only parallel is Barack Obama. And look what happened to him.”

Talk amongst yourselves as you watch the returns next week. Things will start moving much faster and with more clarity.

Me? I’m thinking of putting up a big fence around my farm, maybe dig in a bunker or two, and start stockpiling some 2nd amendment remedies.
sarah

By Duganz

This AP story today about an upcoming Rolling Stone interview with President Barack Obama has left me with lots of questions, and a substantial need to dedicate time to introspection.

On President Obama’s end, he’s mad as hell about perceived apathy on the left. He is tired of progressives being down about what he sees as success––the left being comprised of glass-half-empty types.

“People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up,” Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and “if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.”

In President Obama’s view, the more time we spend complaining about  what we see as his failures (ones he does not see), the more time we’re not watching Republicans.

But we are watching, and it’s scary as hell when we see people clapping for Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin. The Right is gaining power and enthusiasm and will probably take out a good deal of Democrats in the upcoming elections. It’s defeating, and scary, but it’s reality.

So yeah, we are mad  because we all worked hard, gave money, and voted in 2008 to change America for the better. And to see that these people are gaining power instead of being left in the dust of their flat Earth ways, it’s desheartening.

However, do not doubt how serious we are about changing America.

We are serious when we say we want equal rights for our gay friends and family members.

We are serious when we say we want an end to perpetual war.

We are serious when we say we want affordable healthcare for all.

We are serious when we say we want change.

It’s been two years, and these wants are not yet met. Our hopes are as of yet unfulfilled.

In the interview Obama says that change is hard, and I cannot agree more. Change is difficult, and hard, and we’re not a society that likes to wait. Of course some are mad, and anger breeds apathy. But those apathetic people don’t need to be admonished publicly for their malaise, they need to be brought back into the fold with actions and not just promises. It would be nice to see President Obama come clean and say that things aren’t moving as steadily as they should with Democratic control, or condemn regressives within the Democratic establishment who are just as damaging as Republicans.

We cannot live on insistence of success, we need to feel the results by seeing our friends married, our families back from war, our sick well, and our world a better place.

I believe I was right to vote for Barack Obama, and maybe this is his attempt at recreating Jimmy Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech (but in a more successful way).

The thing to remember is: I am not your enemy, Mr. President. CarFreeStpdty is not your enemy (seriously… so don’t clandestinely assassinate him). The Left got you into office because we saw you as our chance. Those “HOPE” stickers weren’t passed out with apathy, but with honest hope and desire for change. And we saw it embodied within you.

Don’t blame us for being upset that you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

By @CarFreeStpdty

you have to result to finding news from an Australian news site, the World Socialist Web Site, and a Rusian news station – see, Obama can’t be a socialist because the real socialists still left in this world hate him just about as much as they hated G.W.

CIA director Leon Panetta filed a legal brief to stop a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against the federal government challenging its acquired taste for assassinating its own citizens. The administration doesn’t want the lawsuit to go through because… well… it would be embarrassing, potentially damaging leading into the elections, and challenge the extra-legal authorities of the Imperialist Presidency.  Already the State Department is attempting to invoke “States Secrets” as a defense against the lawsuit.   Arguing that the judicial branch has no authority here and that the Administration can act as judge, jury, and executioner… and assertion perhaps more egregious than almost anything Obama’s predecessor pulled off.  Amy Goodman featured the story as the top headline on Monday’s show here.

The story first developed when details became available that an American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, wound up on a CIA hit list for materially supporting terrorism.  This got a little play in the MM and a small snippet here by Duganz, but basically it was quickly forgotten by most Americans because we all assume he’s guilty.  I mean just look at him, those beady little eyes, his un-American clothing, and a name slow-talking Midwesterners can’t wrap their tongues around.  I’m not defending any of his actions, because well, he’s a bearded douche.  Just do a Google video search for more videos like this where he openly calls on American Muslims to participate in Jihad against their own country.  While his words hold a great deal of inconvinient and sad truth, an examination of his motives would be for another post.

No, the real story is this seemingly final stride we are taking as a nation into the abyss of police statedom, an abyss nations do not come back from.  No matter how big of a douche this man is he is still an American citizen, born in America and so entitled to all the rights that any other Amiercan citizen is afforded.  And even if his actions and words constitute treason, which they probably do, treasonous people still get trials.  But now we have the development that the administration is actively engaging in “targeted killings,” of US citizens overseas, a policy that Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, openly admitted all the way back in February.

“…he was speaking publicly about the issue to reassure Americans that intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense “follow a set of defined policy and legal procedures that are very carefully observed” in the use of lethal force against U.S. citizens.

and

“We don’t target people for free speech.”

I feel reassured… don’t you?  It’s good to know they have a process for this type of thing, so that some bearded hipster doesn’t get mistaken for an anti-American Muslim cleric.

You know he's a patriotic American by the PBR pride he's displaying

G.W., with the collusion of Democrats, already effectively killed habeas corpus with the PATRIOT Act way back in 2001 so we’ve had a full nine years to get accustomed to our rights getting violated on a regular basis.  Now they have a process so that they don’t kill the wrong American talking about the evils of American policies.  At least Bush had the decency to try and give the American people a credible cover-up scandal when his administration violated the Constitution and international law.  Now instead of Bush hiding his hubris behind a half-cocked smirk we have the Obama administration upfront stating that they just took a steamer on the Constitution and wiped with the Declaration of Independence.  I guess that is Change We Can Believe In©, instead of an administration that spits in our coffee and then mixes it in before being served we now have one that spits directly in our face as we try to order.

Former Reagan Administration Official, Paul Craig Roberts says it better than I can…

Yes, the U.S. government has murdered its citizens, but Dennis Blair’s “defined policy” is a bold new development. The government, of course, denies that it intended to kill the Branch Davidians, Randy Weaver’s wife and child, or the Black Panthers. The government says that Waco was a terrible tragedy, an unintended result brought on by the Branch Davidians themselves. The government says that Ruby Ridge was Randy Weaver’s fault for not appearing in court on a day that had been miscommunicated to him. The Black Panthers, the government says, were dangerous criminals who insisted on a shoot-out.

And again here on Russia Today.  Oh how far our press has sunk that a former Reaganite has to go on a Russian news program to openly talk about the injustices our government commits, not to mention that the irony is thick enough to choke on.

Add on top of this last weeks FBI raid against anti-war protesters with “terror links” and other preemptive raids on activists and all hope seems to just drain out of me.  Back in the good old days Democrats would at a minimum feign disgust and outrage at situations like this, at least until our short American attention spans turned our heads in a different direction.  So lets all just go back to bashing the Tea Party and fighting over where specific houses of worship can be built and pretend like this is still America.

By Duganz

I grew up in Anaconda, Montana, which has seemingly been in a recession since, oh say, 1982. I was also pretty damn poor as a kid–we didn’t eat at Grandma’s just because she cooked, but because we didn’t have food that day. Mom went to school, Dad worked his ass off for us.

But, man, things never seemed this bad:

The number of people in poverty increased by nearly 4 [million] – to 43.6 [million] – between 2008 and 2009, officials said.

The [U.S. Census Bureau] defines poverty as any family of four living on less than $21,954 a year.

Meanwhile, new figures showed home foreclosures in August hit the highest level since the mortgage crisis began.

Banks repossessed 95,364 properties in August, up 3% from July and an increase of 25% from August 2009, said RealtyTrac, a company which charts the national picture.

The official US poverty rate in 2009 rose to 14.3% from 13.2% in 2008. In 2009, 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty, up from 39.8 million the year before, the third consecutive increase, the bureau said.

What the hell was the point of the bailout again? To keep he banks afloat? Anyone want to bet that nobody from Citibank has been added to the poverty pit?

But that’s not all!

There are also 4.4 million more people without health insurance, and as p-bear already pointed out that number probably won’t be going up quickly, ya know, cause the reform bill doesn’t even really come into effect until 2014 (and it’s hard to buy insurance when you’re broke). I wonder how many more will lose insurance by then.

If we’re lucky, maybe we can have a society like the one in Metropolis.

Progressives are taking a huge hit this election year – that much seems clear – and it’s news like this. People see these numbers, and they blame those in power. We can say that President Obama and company inherited the mess all we want, but we must remember that bad numbers caused the Right to lose in 2008. It can happen again.

And who can blame the vox populi? If I was losing my home and my insurance, and I had a family (larger than just me and the Mrs.) I’d be super angry and want something to happen too. And maybe I’d revolt against the people who promised me change, and a future for my kids, and have yet to deliver on that promise (note: it’s easier to sell change than to make it happen).

I’m not trying to be a Negative-Nancy, it’s a cold reality and no amount of sugar can make it go down easy.

Unfortunately, that anger is leading to the steady rise of people like this nutcase:

It’s gonna be a long November.

by Pete Talbot

Apparently, our President isn’t really that committed to combating climate change.

According to Environment and Energy Daily, the Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major greenhouse gas emitters for their contributions to global warming.

(Here’s a link to the publication but unfortunately you need to subscribe to read the story. Trial subscriptions are available. I’ve reproduced the story below the fold.)

The case centers on what’s known as “public nuisance” lawsuits and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs — a coalition of states, environmental groups and New York City. The plaintiffs are filing a lawsuit that seeks to force several of the nation’s largest coal-fired utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalists were shocked with the administration siding with the big coal companies. From the story:

Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general’s office on June 24, it seemed they had “a lot of friends in the room,” he said.

“We feel stabbed in the back,” Pawa said. “This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?”

I’m feeling a little back-stabbed, too.

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By CFS

If you haven’t already gotten the chance to view this clip of the Daily Show – basically Jon Stewart gets so frustrated and dumbstruck with politics in Washington that he gives up trying to understand the method behind the madness that he feels like giving up – I ask that you do so now.  It sums up perfectly how I have felt about politics for about the last year and the utter failure of my meek mind to understand the stonewalling tactics of GOPers and the rise of the angry right.

The latest thing to blow my mind occurred last week when Colorado gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes’ claimed that Denver’s new bicycle share program was part of a conspiracy to “convert Denver into a United Nations community.”  Who knows what that really means but it seems that bikes could “threaten our personal freedoms.”  So while progressives are attempting to provide America with more transportation choices through making transportation funding more level for roads, transit, and non-motorized modes – and isn’t that what American freedom is all about… choice – a certain segment of conservatives would like to demonize bicycles and even ban them from our roads.  These are the types of people who are rising to the top thanks to the Tea Party… Dan Maes, Sharon Angle, and Rand?

According to a study conducted by several researchers from MIT way back in 2006, and recently updated, we live in the most partisan political atmosphere since the civil war reconstruction era.  Thanks to that radical partisanship we also have the first failed Presidency of the 21st Century… not another FDR but Hoover 2.0.  And I am referring to the perception of a failed Presidency that surrounds Obama at this point.  It is a perception that had its inception early on when the media hyped his first 100 days as akin to FDR’s famous energetic push of legislation and then Obama promptly disappointed.  No matter what the reality is of the Obama Presidency, no matter what pieces of legislation get passed, the last two years have been a failure compared to the hype of “change” that was such a clarion call to the ideologically muddled masses.

And thats the place in the story where the needle skips for me.  The gap between the reality of the Obama Presidency and the perception of Obama that has engendered the Tea Party insurgency, the “Just Say No To Everything” Republicans, and political candidates such as Dan Maes.  Obama as a danger to our future freedom has been manufactured and used to an amazing level of effectiveness.  Far from being the transformative figure he was original billed as, or the secret socialist taking over every facet of American life and ridding America of free-will that the Tea Party would like everyone to believe,  he has proven to be an inept and ineffectual manager of congress, his legislative agenda and worst of all an incrementalist rather than a radical.  In that vein he is akin to Hoover, understanding the gravity of the situation laid-out before him but being to meek to take truly bold action the like of which propelled FDR to the venerated position he occupies in the American psyche.

Little, if anything, fundamental about our country has changed since Obama’s election other than that sentiment in this country has taken another rightward lurch that seemed so unthinkable after eight years of George W. Bush.  The truly transformative presidents of the last 100 years (FDR, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan) all aggressively pushed through their legislative agendas in a paternalistic manner and largely controlled the conversation surrounding policy effectively enough to give us policies and programs that have stood the test of time and have become a part of the fundamental makeup of our Republic.  Whereas Obama has passed a health bill that a Republican resurgence will guarantee the demise of while also being unable occupy the rhetorical high ground in political battles.  Sorry Republicans, but George W. Bush gave us a more radical expansion of federal government powers, powers that fundamentally erode our rights as citizens, than anything Obama has given us.

I understand the anger and fear of an unknown future that people feel at the current moment as jobs continue to vaporize and an avalanche of foreclosures continue to steamroll the economy.  But Obama is not the great monster threatening our freedoms and our future… extreme partisanship and levels of income equality not seen since the 1920s.  30 years of conservative ideology and policies led us to a precipice which we promptly fell off with the bursting of the housing bubble… so it must be the next guys fault and not the cumulative result of decades of policy, greed, and bets gone wrong.

by jhwygirl

Teabaggers around the states today celebrated whatever it is they celebrated by getting out and protesting whatever it is they’re protesting. On Keith Olbermann’s show tonight, he reported on a senior citizen that was interviewed at one of these many protests who said she was on social security, did not want to see it dissolved, and didn’t know that the teabaggers wanted to get rid of social security.

They’re teabaggers, and they’re proud of it:

Jay has a great piece up at Left in the West pointing out many interesting facts about those that love tea.

I got a nominal refund from the feds. I like it that way. Big refunds mean a freebee loan to uncle, and why would anyone want to do that? I owed the state a few bucks, and I was happy to do it – it means that much less in coal porn profits for my share.

President Obama and his wife paid $1.8 million in taxes on the $5.5 million that he made. They donated $329.100 to charities – and none of those figures include the $1.4 million Nobel Peace prize the President won and then donated to a number of organizations, include Bozeman’s Greg Mortenson, who works building schools in Afghanistan.

I like my government. I like having police and schools. I like that someone builds and maintains roads and highways. I also like that someone regulates things like food and hospitals, and ensures that places like gas stations don’t present a hazard to the public.

The reality that these teabaggers create is interesting. In 2009? 47% of Americans did not pay federal income tax. 47%.

Interestingly, a preliminary table created by the Tax Policy Center estimated 45% of Americans would have no tax liability – but what is even more interesting is that under a “simplified tax system”, which many tea partyiers advocate for (including my brother), only 27% of people would have a no tax liability.

Who isn’t paying taxes? The lowest income folks – those on social security, families and single parents utilizing the earned-income credit. Who’s fault is that? Blame it on Ronald Reagan:

It is no accident, btw, that the number of people not paying income tax was so high in 2009. You may have noticed that we’ve had a recession lately. And here is a powerful insight: When people’s incomes decline so too does their income tax (at least most of the time). At the same time, many working families have benefited from temporary tax cuts aimed at boosting the economy, and as a result some did not pay income taxes last year. As the economy improves and those tax cuts expire, it should also be no surprise that the share of people who don’t pay income taxes will likely shrink from half last year to less than 40 percent by 2012.

There is, however, another reason why some people don’t pay. For decades, both Democratic and Republican governments have made conscious policy decisions to remove low-income working families from the income tax rolls. And, guess what, sometimes government policy works exactly as intended. That’s what happened this time.

Let’s take one of the biggest drivers: the Earned Income Tax Credit. Based on an idea (the negative income tax) originated by conservative icon Milton Friedman, the EITC is refundable, so that people who work for low wages can not only wipe out their income tax liability, they can even get a cash payment from the government. The EITC was enacted in 1975 under President Ford, greatly expanded in 1986 under President Reagan, and expanded again under presidents Clinton and Bush (both of them). It’s been the very model of bipartisan tax policy (which, I suppose, is why some dislike it so).

Both the EITC and the child care credit are explicitly designed to encourage people to work—a goal most of us (including Friedman and Ronald Reagan) thought was a very good thing.

Doesn’t make much sense to tax people that aren’t sitting on their cash – people living hand-to-mouth are only going to spend.

Which is something even that tea partyin’ senior citizen on social security realized as she was being interviewed, having used her social security check to put gas in the car to get her to the protest.




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