Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Take a Risk, Mr. President

In the next few days, President Obama will unveil his jobs plan to the nation. In the short time since he announced his intention to talk about this new plan, the latest employment numbers have come out and they were not good. According to the August numbers, there was no change in jobs at all – zero. Whether this is good or poor timing for the White House remains to be seen. For instance, the President could use these numbers to his advantage and reach big. Most Democrats and economists certainly want this. However, there is always the possibility the President could play it very conservatively. He could rehash programs designed to spur job growth by emphasizing tax cuts and other breaks for businesses. In other words, small programs, little risk.  This, however, would be a big mistake.

The plan the President is going to unveil is much more than a jobs plan – it is a lifeline for his Presidency. Recent high-profile retreats from EPA regulations, deficit measures, and tax cuts for the rich have infuriated most middle-class Americans. Many on the left and center are now openly questioning the President’s leadership and ability to take on a tough GOP opposition without simply caving. While this may or may not be entirely accurate is now not relevant. The media (left and right) have hammered on this over and over to the point where it has started to become mainstream thought. To counter this, the President must take bold action to spur job growth. He must take a risk.

Breaks to big business and banking have not added more working capital to small businesses in the form of lending nor have they encouraged most businesses to hire more people. It is up to the government to help hire Americans by creating a jobs program that rebuilds our national infrastructure, repairs our crumbling schools, creates a coast to coast rail and broadband internet initiative, and helps rebuild areas of our country decimated by natural disaster including – especially – New Orleans. Recent studies have shown that the US gets a D for overall infrastructure. That is an abysmal grade for one of the richest countries in the world. Unemployment remains at close to 9.2%. Why not create a bold jobs initiative that will not only help repair our country’s infrastructure but also reduce unemployment below 9%?

It’s not only the smart thing to do, for our crumbling infrastructure and schools, it is also the right thing to do – for our citizens and our economy.

GOP, Supreme Court, and Attack Ads

The GOP are cowards. That’s right – I said cowards. Karl Rove and his ilk are spreading lies, disinformation, and increased half truths by way of corporate funded attack ads. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this is the secretive way that these corporations (some foreign) funnel campaign financing secretly to front groups that produce attack ads and literature that are all 100% against the Democratic Party. The GOP doesn’t even hide the fact that they are working with corporations to raise millions of dollars to attack Democrats.

What is truly disgusting about this is that the GOP defends the secretive nature of their fundraising. What are they hiding? What are they afraid of? The answer is clear: they are ashamed of the backers that fund their attack ads. Why ashamed? If the American Public knew about the businesses that backed the GOP agenda, they would vote against the GOP!

However, without the mandatory disclosure rules of campaign donations,  corporations are free to donate to whomever protects their interests best – the GOP. And why would corporate America protect the GOP? It’s simple – for money.  The US Chamber of Commerce, leading the charge, wants to help make the GOP agenda a reality. This agenda includes the repeal the health care law, privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and rolling back as many of the new regulations that protect consumers and regulate corporations.

Imagine, for a moment, if you knew that BP funded attack ads that helped a GOP candidate who was friendly to their agenda. A candidate who was against regulations that protect our natural environment from an oil spill disaster. A candidate who was letting the oil industry lobbyists help the GOP write legislation (just as many GOP members did during the first term of George W. Bush). A candidate who did not care about the middle class workers who would be hurt by having their livelihood erased by BP. Would you vote for that candidate knowing all this? Probably not. But the Supreme Court – a right-leaning court for some time now – ruled that corporations are people and have the right to donate in private.

The result of this ruling was nothing less than mayhem. Now, financing from corporations – all done in secret – remove the accountability that those corporations have to the people.

The GOP claim, however, that this doesn’t change anything. Or they claim that Democrats do the ’same’ thing. This is clearly a lie – on a very large scale. Some Democrats are friendly to businesses and support their interests in legislation. This is true. But the Democratic Party – as a whole – does not have an agenda to oust the GOP by employing secret attack ads across a wide spectrum of candidacies. This is anti-American and undemocratic.

In the end, the GOP does not want you – the voting public – to know where their donations (now in the millions) come from. They are happy to hide in the cloak of secrecy that protects their corporate masters. They do not care what is at stake for our democracy and country as a whole. Fortunately, there are many people who do care. The GOP would have you believe that these people do not exist. That we support them and have no problem with their secret campaign contributions.

Again, this is very far from true. Case in point? How about Fox News. When shareholders found out about several $1 Million donations to the Republican Governors Association and the US Chamber of Commerce, they responded angrily to Rupert Murdoch’s evasive answers at a recent shareholder’s meeting.

The GOP and their TeaParty cohorts often talk about taking the country back. This makes no sense to me since in my opinion, they already have the country. If anyone needs to take the country back, it should be the American people and the Democratic Party.

Dick Armey and The Real Deception on the Public Option

Over the past several weeks, we have heard many things about the health care debate. Some people, including conservative media outlets, refer to the public option as single payer health care and to President Obama as a socialist. And to our collective shame, we have all heard about Rep. Joe Wilson’s now infamous ‘you lie’ blunder at the President’s joint session of congress. But the rhetoric does not stop there. The question is who is organzing these events and does the GOP support it?

The answer shouldn’t surprise anyone that remembers who helped torpedo health care in the 1990s. It seems that retired GOP pundit Dick Armey is back to his old tricks. Armey, a right-wing conservative, has been very busy lately. He helped organize the 9/12 march in Washington as well as the Tea Party and Town Hall disruptions.

However, as is often the case with people like Armey, when you research the facts you discover something surprising. Armey, the man who doesn’t want government health care for the rest of us, has spent most of his career receiving taxpayer subsidized, government health care. Armey’s health plan is the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan. In fact, just to add another swift kick to our collective butts, the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan is subsidized approximately 75% by us. That’s right, we pay for a government run health plan for retired GOP and current members of both the house and senate. That means when the GOP and blue dog Democrats oppose any type of government health care, they are really saying, the rules don’t apply for us. It’s ok for us to have a top-notch health care plan subsidized by taxpayers, but we’ll fight tooth and nail to keep you from getting a non-taxpayer subsidized plan that might hurt our insurance industry friends.

Bill Moyers did an excellent segment on this. Watch the video below and judge for yourself.

Obama Transition Watch: Rom Emanuel & Hillary Clinton

The Obama team, famously Tight-lipped during the transition period to the Presidency, has let slip a potential Secretary of State Candidate: Senator Hillary Clinton – or have they? One could probably go insane trying to decipher the politics of this situation. A shrewd person might postulate that the Clintons may have met with President-Elect Obama and then let the rumor slip from their camp – to either seal or blow the deal.

In contrast, Obama’s team may have let this slip to seal or blow the deal. There is probably no way for any of us to know for sure. One thing is certain: the Obama transition has become a lot more interesting overnight.

In all likelihood, the correct answer is none of the above. Obama has rightly earned the nickname “no drama Obama” for a reason. After all, Obama had no forced commitment to Clinton.  Clinton, on the other hand, has no reason to play politics with this. 

Instead, it could be a planned leak by the Obama camp to test the waters – both in the Clinton camp and in the public forum. Reportedly, however, there is also some discussion that Senator John Kerry is being considered for the post.

Obama’s first transition appointment, Rep. Rom Emanuel, seems to be somewhat tame in comparison to all this. His appointment, however, is far from tame. Rep. Emanual’s appointment to the position as President-Elect Obama’s Chief of Staff, is widely considered a politically savvy decision by Obama. Emanuel is a respected member of congress by both sides of the aisle. 

As chief of staff, one of his principal duties will be to help push Obama’s legislative agenda through Congress. Since Rep. Emanuel was the primary reason that NAFTA – an unpopular piece of legislation – was pushed through a Democratic-controlled Congress early in the Clinton Administration, it seems Obama’s choice was a wise one.

Grab the Cheese Curls and Beer!

Grab your favorite snack and drink and prepare for a long election night! Lots of House and Senate seats are in contention. Lots of ballot measures to watch. Of course, the election of our next President gets top billing! It is still not too late if you are an Obama supporter to help make calls to swing states and others! Go to http://my.barackobama.com and register. Once done, you can call for Obama from the comfort of your own home! It’s really easy – I know – I just did it myself! I even convinced a self-proclaimed racist to vote for Obama! How about that?

Advantage: Obama

In the first of several debates, Presidential candidate Barack Obama clearly demonstrated his command of the facts, his intelligent and articulate analysis of the economy, and held his own against McCain in foreign policy. McCain, who was widely viewed as superior in foreign policy, should have trounced Obama – but did not. Instead, Obama sparred with McCain for over 90 minutes answering questions confidently and responding to McCain attacks decisively. In one such attack, McCain accused Senator Obama of promoting an attack against Pakistan and doing it loudly – which he felt was inappropriately handled:

We’ve got to get the support of the people of — of Pakistan. He said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan.

Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.

Obama responded quickly:

Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.

And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.

Now, I think that’s the right strategy; I think that’s the right policy.

And, John, I — you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.

McCain, on the other hand, appeared to be uncomfortable and defensive at times – even mispronouncing some leader’s names:

Now, the new president of Pakistan, Kardari (sic), has got his hands full. And this area on the border has not been governed since the days of Alexander the Great.

That may seem like a minor point, however, when you are billed as superior to Obama on foreign policy, that kind of mistake is bad – especially when your opponent (Obama) made no such mistake in over 90 minutes of off the cuff debate.

On the economy, Obama came through loud and clear as the candidate that was clearly for helping Main Street, while McCain came through as the candidate who promoted programs to help Wall Street – both by his own statements and by Obama’s criticism. In fact, McCain had to be asked twice to give an answer on his opinion of the bailout plan because he spoke about the economy vaguely in his initial statements. Obama on the other hand immediately laid out his plans on what needs to be done.

OBAMA: You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is involved in two wars, and we are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

And although we’ve heard a lot about Wall Street, those of you on Main Street I think have been struggling for a while, and you recognize that this could have an impact on all sectors of the economy.

And you’re wondering, how’s it going to affect me? How’s it going to affect my job? How’s it going to affect my house? How’s it going to affect my retirement savings or my ability to send my children to college?

So we have to move swiftly, and we have to move wisely. And I’ve put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort.

No. 1, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money.

No. 2, we’ve got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market — and when the market returns.

No. 3, we’ve got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes.

And, No. 4, we’ve got to make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country.

Now, we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.

It hasn’t worked. And I think that the fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake. That’s why I’m running for president, and that’s what I hope we’re going to be talking about tonight.

McCain, on the other hand, didn’t have many specifics about how to fix the economic woes or about his support for the bailout plan.

MCCAIN: And, Jim, I — I’ve been not feeling too great about a lot of things lately. So have a lot of Americans who are facing challenges. But I’m feeling a little better tonight, and I’ll tell you why.

Because as we’re here tonight in this debate, we are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we’re in.

And have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We’re talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in — certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while.

But the point is — the point is, we have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.

This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it.

And, yes, I went back to Washington, and I met with my Republicans in the House of Representatives. And they weren’t part of the negotiations, and I understand that. And it was the House Republicans that decided that they would be part of the solution to this problem.

But I want to emphasize one point to all Americans tonight. This isn’t the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning, if we come out with a package that will keep these institutions stable.

And we’ve got a lot of work to do. And we’ve got to create jobs. And one of the areas, of course, is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.

Obviously, McCain had more to say on the economy as the debate continued, but the point here was that he was slow to initially respond on the most important crisis facing America today and was on the defensive about House Republicans torpedoing the bipartisan Senate agreement taken to the White House – since it is widely viewed as a McCain led attack on the initial plan.

Interestingly enough, polling has shown that Obama won the debate by a large number of uncommitted voters (CBS & CNN poll) on the economy and foreign policy. However, I have never been a strong proponent of polling because I believe the media to be conservative (for the most part) and often polls are skewed to the right-center or right of any issue. Even so, the polling is interesting – even when you factor in a skew to the right:

CBS Polling:

40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.

68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision
about the economy. 41% think McCain would.

49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.

CNN went beyond that actually finding that Obama won on Iraq issues:

Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?

Obama 51%
McCain 38%

Who Would Better Handle Economy?
Obama 58%
McCain 37%

Who Would Better Handle Iraq?
Obama 52%
McCain 47%

Overall, I think Obama has a clear victory in this debate – even if you rank him equally with McCain on foreign policy (or close but behind McCain) the damage is there. McCain’s strongest perceived issue – foreign policy – was no knockout punch to Obama. In addition, with the economic turmoil facing the country right now, McCain seemed out of touch and vague on the details of both his support of the bailout plan and what he might do as President to fix the mess. In hindsight, leading a Republican House delegation to the White House to scuttle the bipartisan Senate agreement on the bailout plan probably was a gamble that only helped Obama and hurt McCain.

Lieberman Speech: Palin vs. Obama

It just doesn’t work. When Lieberman (and a whole boatload of other republicans) praise Palin’s experience while criticizing Obama’s experience, it rings hollow. What is especially interesting is that many of the arguments against Obama could also be used against McCain. McCain, for instance, while having many years of experience, has no executive branch experience – like a Governor does. But this does not stop Republicans from pointing this out about Obama vs. Palin.

To be successful, the Republican party normally focuses on the issues they can easily manipulate – that is what helped them in 2000 and 2004. When they stumble like this, and criticize one candidate for experience while their own VP candidate has little experience, it shows just how disorganized and confused this party is now.

On top of all this, they have Lieberman, a Democrat, attend the Republican convention. Lieberman, in the end, may well be remembered as poster boy for GOP confusion and disorganization.

Senator Clinton Proves Them Wrong

Despite the conservative media’s attempts to paint the relationship between the Obama camp and the Clinton camp as contentious, the Clintons have delivered both since the primary season ended and at the Democratic Convention. Interestingly, the media would have us believe that Senator Clinton’s speech was a snub to the Obama camp and that she didn’t really grovel quite enough for the Obama faithful.

This is, of course, hogwash.

Senator Clinton and President Clinton both delivered highly complimentary speeches that aimed at the very heart of Democratic concerns: unity.

Neither dissed Obama nor did Obama snub Clinton as several media personalities on MSNBC, CBS, FOX, and other networks tried to assert.

Even more importantly, the Clintons have worked very hard to support the Obama camp and promise to deliver more of the same throughout the election cycle.

Given the strength of the Obama campaign and Clinton campaign machines, this has to scare the bejesus out of the Republicans.

Naturally, their response is to divide the Democrats by any means necessary.

Sorry guys, that won’t work this time. Voters are way too angry to let the Republican scare tactics and divisive policies fool them this time.

It’s going to be an interesting election season.

SIDEBAR: Eric Boehlert wrote an excellent article on the press and their potential reaction to Clinton’s speech. It’s worth a read.

Obama Wins, Clinton Loses, and McCain Laughs?

What is so funny? Why is John McCain laughing you ask? That, my friends, is simple. Hillary Clinton gave him so much ammunition with which to fight Obama, it’s literally ridiculous. However, in order to use this ammunition, the candidate in question needs something John McCain doesn’t have – intelligence.

I know, I know, all you McCain fans are cursing at me right now. But let’s objectively look at the McCain candidacy. He had a huge lead time to fight Democrats while the Obama/Clinton primary battle droned on and on. How did he use this all this extra time? To all serious observers, it appeared that McCain squandered this time. He could have attacked Obama and Clinton and the Democrats over and over again, but instead, he slept. He allowed the media to concentrate on the Democrats while he was content to sit back and do nothing.

This is not the John McCain many of you know. Not the John McCain of 2000. The man who ran the “straight talk express”. No folks, this was not the same man. John McCain of that time is long gone. The John McCain we see today is disturbingly similar to a man we all know well – President George Bush.

Now think about that for a moment. Why is John McCain suddenly so aligned with George Bush and his ilk? After all, isn’t his ‘maverick’ persona rife with the legend of opposing conventional thinking?

Perhaps it was – once. Fast forward to today and what do you see? A John McCain who votes 95% of the time with President Bush and his policies. A John McCain who incredibly finds himself voting against his own proposed legislation as a Presidential candidate. A John McCain who stupified everyone by voting against legislation that attempted to stop torture. A John McCain who, ultimately, has become a caricature of himself.

Again? What does John McCain think is so funny? Something must be funny to him, right? Perhaps, in the end, McCain is just laughing with the crowd. The same crowd that clearly understands that the joke is on him.