The Watering Hole, Monday, October 15th, 2012: Presidential Debates, Part Deux

With an eye towards tomorrow night’s Presidential Debate, here’s a transcript of the first debate, along with the Washington Post’s fact-checking of that debate.

Since the second debate, a town-hall style hosted by Candy Crowley of CNN, will focus on both domestic and foreign policy issues, take a look at the transcript of Mitt Romney’s recent foreign-policy speech at Virginia Military Institute (VMI.) (I’ll have a bit more on this in my upcoming post on Thursday, October 18th.)

Lest we forget the full content of Mitt Romney’s “47-Percent” talk with his $50,000-a-plate donors, I suggest a review of the entire transcript, which contains both domestic and foreign-policy comments.

And in the meantime, back in the real world, ThinkProgress discusses how President Obama is actually dealing with the “thorny issue” of a nuclear Iran. The President is considering an agreement with Iran (i.e., diplomacy) as suggested by a couple of Israeli security experts. This shall, no doubt, be seen as “weakness” by Romney/Ryan and all other Republicans.

This is our daily open thread–start studying, or talk about whatever’s bugging you lately.

Dear Mr President – Open Letter

Dear Mr President,

Now that the dust has settled over the debate a bit, there is one question remaining. Will you fight for your people? Will you do what is necessary to honor the hard work and dedication of the millions of supporters and helpers you have?

I would feel every bit as weary as you looked in the debate and even more so if I were in your shoes. Four years of spite and disrespect, of obstruction and hate are enough to make anyone weary. But. You are not just anyone. You are the President of the United States of America. You gave your people hope four years ago and have made good on many of your promises. But. Your job is not finished. There is still a difficult and rocky road in front of you and your people. Don’t leave them alone!

Fight! Fight against the lies and distortions! Fight against the attacks on your people from Corporate interests! Fight for the women in your country! Fight for the Poor! Fight for the working people who struggle each day to make their ends meet! Fight for the ones too sick to help themselves, the ones too old to care for themselves, the ones still too young to provide for themselves, the ones too traumatized by wars they fought for all of you to find a way back into their lives by themselves. Fight! You must!

Kind regards,

EV

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 27th, 2012: Presidential Speed Dating Debating

Most of us liberal political junkies suffered dutifully through some or all of the 20 or so Republican Presidential candidate debates, from May of 2011 – yes, MAY OF 2011! – through February of 2012. Our months and months of exhaustive study of the Republican Presidential wannabes revealed (fairly early on, actually) that, once the true crazies made themselves obvious, the Republicans would be stuck with Willard Mitt Romney as ‘the best of a bad bunch.’ (See this Wiki page for a recap of each debate, with each one’s highlights, lowlights, weird quotes, and squabbles.) But still, we watched for hours and hours in fascinated horror. In fact, those of us who sat through most of the debates did so for a total of more than 24 hours of coverage, some of us even more. Mitt Romney attended all but one of those debates, but we still endured at least 20 hours that included a large amount of Mittspeak.

Now compare those interminable hours of coverage of the Republicans choosing their nominee, with the three 90-minute Presidential debates and the one 90-minute Vice-Presidential debate, scheduled for October.

The first Presidential debate will be on Wednesday, October 3rd, and, according to a release by CNN, will cover the following topics:

Economy – 45 minutes
Health Care – 15 minutes
Role of Government – 15 minutes
Governing – 15 minutes

(I like the fact that “The statement also acknowledged that the topics could change “because of news developments.” Heh.)

So, the first debate is going to take on the topics of ‘Health Care’, ‘Role of Government’, and ‘Governing’ for a whopping 15 minutes apiece, and those 15 minute blocks are divvied up between the two candidates – just how much are potential voters going to learn in such little time?

The second Presidential debate, scheduled for October 16th, will be a “Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy”, where “The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.”

The third debate, on October 22nd, will cover foreign policy, and “The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate…” Hmmm, does that mean that, say Iran gets 45 minutes, Pakistan 15 minutes, Israel 15 minutes, and oh, how about Russia gets the last 15 minutes?

This election (as so many are) is described on both sides as “the most important election in the history of our country” – then why is so little time devoted by the major networks to helping voters make an informed decision? A total of four-and-a-half hours, to try to figure out who should be the leader of the free world for the next four years, is way too little, but hopefully not way too late.

This is our Open Thread. You may speak Up on any topic that you choose – just speak up!

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 24th, 2012: Monday Morning Mix

First up today, an article from Foreign Policy Magazine entitled “Why Mitt Romney Can’t Talk About Iraq”. An excerpt:

“According to a University of California, Santa Barbara archive of formal campaign speeches by both candidates, Romney has used the word “Iraq” seven times on the trail (usually in the context of military service) while Obama has referenced the country 76 times (often as part of a stump-speech line about keeping his promise to end the war). The same pattern held true at the conventions: Republicans mentioned Iraq seven times, while the Democrats did so 34 times. Romney didn’t talk about Iraq in his convention speech and made only a passing reference to it in his biggest foreign-policy address of the campaign in South Carolina.

Romney might argue, as he has in defending his failure to mention the Afghan war in Tampa, that it’s his policies that matter, not how many times he mentions particular words in speeches.”

(So, it appears that others have been studying the information at The Presidency Project, to which I had linked in a recent post.)

The article finishes with, “The Romney campaign isn’t about to give the president any more ammunition.

That line sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Ann Romney, when stating that “you people” weren’t going to be allowed to see any more of the Romneys’ tax returns than what was ‘legally required’ – a phrase that both she and Mitt seem to be fond of – because it would just give “more ammunition” to the pundits and political opposition. Too bad…if the TRUTH would give your opponents ammunition against you, then you really aren’t Presidential material.

Next up: I had also recently mentioned an effort by two Catholic groups, Catholics United and Faithful America, to keep politics out of Sunday Mass. Faithful America’s website has an interesting listing of other political causes, working against the radical right-wing religious zealots.

And lastly, a piece from our local Patch online newspaper, which discusses a poll taken of ‘New York GOP Insiders’ regarding Romney’s chances post-“47%” remarks from the recently surfaced Romney fundraising video. Some of the comments here are worth reading.

Speaking of the Romney fundraising video, I would like to thank James Carter IV for his efforts in finding the video and for getting this amazingly damning revelation of Romney’s character into the public arena. And, of course, special thanks to whoever actually made the video.

This is our Open Thread. Speak Up on any topic that you choose.

The Watering Hole, Saturday September 15, 2012 – Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

It was a week of tragedy. On Tuesday, an al Qaeda-trained unit breached security, overtook the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, his aide (and former Airman) Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. They were honored yesterday in a Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Andrews, AFB, in Maryland. [Full Disclosure: My first assignment out of Tech School was to Andrews, AFB, in 1983. I got to play golf on one of their championship golf courses because Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger decided to cancel his tee time, an hour and a half late.] Recent reports indicate the attack may have been in retaliation for a drone strike that killed the then-Number Two In Al Qaeda, widely agreed to be the most dangerous job in the world. It did not have anything to do with the protests going on in Egypt and Yemen over that stupid anti-Muslim movie trailer for a film that, in all likelihood, given the criminal past of one of the men involved, does not exist. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton made wonderful, poignant remarks in remembrance of the fallen Americans.

President Obama began by quoting Scripture, as Christian men are wont to do, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is, even to this Atheist, a beautiful sentiment, and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. As for me, I can think of no more honorable way to die than in an effort to save the life of others. The brave men who died in the service of their country did so knowing their jobs were dangerous ones, and that this could happen, yet they chose to do it anyway. Though much well-deserved credit is given to the armed forces who keep us safe, an insufficient amount of credit is given to the diplomatic corps who work behind the scenes to keep us safe, too. Bad things happen, more often than we would like, and some heads of countries cannot be seen to appear weak in the eyes of their people, and diplomats find a way to satisfy everyone’s interests in the name of Peace. We may not agree with some of their results from time to time, but by and large, if it weren’t for the Department of State, every able-bodied person would have to be prepared to fight in some war over some stupid shit, because we’d have no one to talk sense into those who wish us harm. And their efforts work. And they should be appreciated more. Because sometimes, even they die in the line of duty. And we owe them every measure of respect and devotion we’d give to a fallen soldier in combat. They died for the same noble cause.

UPDATE: Thanks to badmoodman, we now have a video we can post of the entire ceremony at Andrews AFB.

This is, of course, our Open Thread, so feel free to discuss the tragedy leading to four dead Americans which had nothing whatsoever to do with the ignorant, bigoted, fraudulent anti-Islam movie trailer, released on the Internets, or maybe something a little more lighthearted for a Saturday morning, such as cute little kittens:

Dawn broke, Captain Whiskers and his mysterious sidekick—known only as “the Kitten”—had triumphed, the city was safe.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain]

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 10th, 2012: Romney’s Ramblings

I’ve been reading through the transcripts of Mitt Romney’s campaign speeches, and I’ve noticed that he has several recurring themes and lies about President Obama:

- “President Obama sees a different America and has taken us in a different direction.”

- “A few months into office, he travelled around the globe to apologize for America.”

- “Ronald Reagan rallied America with “Peace Through Strength.””

- “We must pass a torch to the next generation…”

- “It’s really an election about the soul of America.”

- “Three years ago, Candidate Obama promised to address the problems of illegal immigration in America. He failed. The truth is, he didn’t even try.”

- “American strength rises from a strong economy, a strong defense, and the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this President, all three of those elements have been weakened.”

- “This President’s first answer to every problem is to take power from you, your local government and your state so that so-called “experts” in Washington can make those choices for you. And with each of these decisions, we lose more of our freedom.”

This particular speech from January, 2012, in New Hampshire, probably has the most out-and-out lies of all the speeches I’ve read so far (read for yourself.)

Here’s the most hypocritical lie (and one that he reiterated at the RNC):

- “At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best…”

I’ve also run across various and sundry WTF? lines:

- “As President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy. I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.”

- “Barack Obama has failed America. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in this country. These failing hopes make up President Obama’s own misery index. It’s never been higher. And what’s his answer? He says this: “I’m just getting started.”

- “If a couple has a baby, the government will actually give them more support—in the form of food stamps, welfare, or other benefits—if they do not marry than if they do. Our safety-net programs penalize the decision to marry, instead of rewarding it. That’s just wrong. And that’s why I will eliminate these marriage penalties.”

- “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.”

Romney’s campaign speeches also contain myriad Republican-hot-button-buzzwords, repeated ad nauseum, such as “freedom”, “opportunity”, “exceptionalism”, “entitlements”, “failure”, etc. In addition, Romney makes plenty of promises to uphold or strengthen various rights: States’ rights; corporations’ rights to conduct their businesses unfettered by Federal regulations; and, of course, the overarching rights of a collection of zygotes.

However, thus far in my research (ten speeches), one very important topic stands out which Mitt Romney completely ignores: Women’s issues and rights. Romney’s only mention of women:

- “We live in the most powerful nation that ever existed. And it all goes back to a few men and women who had the courage to stand – and even die – for their belief in liberty and equality.”

and

- “…I will hold fathers financially responsible for their child, whether or not they have married the mother.”

As I mentioned, I’m only ten speeches into a collection of about forty-five, so there’s a possibility that Romney may have discussed support for women’s rights in a later speech. But I’ve got the feeling that that possibility is slim-to-none.

This is our daily open thread — What would YOU like to ramble about?

The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 – Soledad O’Brien, GOP Lie Detector

It’s been a while since I had any desire to tune into CNN, but thanks to Soledad O’Brien, there’s a chance slightly better than a snowball’s in Hell that I might start watching again. Soledad has been doing something lately you don’t often see on the TV machine – challenging Republican lies. And boy, do they get testy when you do that. This past Tuesday she nailed former NH Gov John Sununu, a former GHW Bush Chief-of-Staff who resigned after misusing government resources to conduct personal business, over his lie that the Romney Medicare plan is not being turned into a voucher program. Apparently the word “voucher” must not have tested well with focus groups when used in conjunction with Medicare (as opposed to when used with “school choice”) because the Republicans insist that it is not a “voucher program,” it’s a “premium support program.” The government will give seniors a fixed amount so they can go out on the free market and buy their own Medicare plans. That fixed amount in known in reality-based circles as a voucher. Notice how testy Sununu gets when Soledad points out the facts. He starts name-calling, and saying she’s just mimicking the White House. (Actually, she’s mimicking the CBO.) How mature.

The next day, she got in to a heated discussion with Romney Surrogate Liar Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m never going to get this post finished if I keep doing that. Try again.

She got into a discussion with T-Paw, who tried to milk an old Washington trick to “prove” his point. The controversy centered around the Washington definition of the word “cut” in relation to spending and budgets. For those who don’t know, whenever someone proposes reducing the amount of money by which a government program will increase spending, it is called, by both political parties, a “cut.” They do it so they can say, “The other guy wants to cut Medicare!” (Or Education, or Defense, or whatever.) They say this even if the actual amount of money to be spent increases! And, of course, both sides do this because they know the American public doesn’t understand what they’re really saying. They hear “spending cuts,” and they think spending will actually go down. It doesn’t. It just goes up by less.

Which brings us to yesterday and an interview with Rep Jason Chaffetz. This time they were back to whether or not the Romney plan is a “voucher” program or a “premium support” program. Like his fellow Romney surrogates before him, Chaffetz just flat out denies the meaning of words in order to claim he’s right and she’s wrong. It’s another favorite tactic of Republicans – just say the opposite of the truth and claim that whatever the other person is saying is “simply not true.” Keep in mind that their goal is not to win the argument, which they can’t because they don’t have the facts on their side. Instead, the goal is to confuse the American people enough so they don’t believe the side that is telling the truth. The fact is that Obama’s plan saves money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare spending. So the Republicans want to make people believe anything but that. And that’s pretty much how they approach any political argument.

If Soledad O’Brien keeps this up, I may just start watching CNN again. At least, I will when she’s on.

[H/T Pete, who brought Soledad O'Brien's exploits to my attention.]

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne's Brain.]

The Watering Hole – Saturday, July 28th, 2012 – Busted!

It seems Mitt Romney has a small problem with his advisers. If they exist, they lie about as much as Romney does. They’re also just as cowardly, as they chose to anonymously spew lies about the President of the United States while on foreign soil, which I thought was supposed to be a major no-no (at least, the Republicans see it that way.) The latest little twist of reality involves the famous bust of Sir Winston Churchill that was on display in the Oval Office during the Bush Administration. It appears that the Right Wing has gotten its knickers in a twist claiming that Obama insulted the Brits by returning the bust when he took office and refusing an offer to keep it. The problem is that, as is often the case in things that upset the RW, it is not exactly true. To make matters worse, famous RW crap spewer Charles Krauthammer repeated this twist on reality in one of his columns, which enabled the Romney advisers to anonymously and, in a cowardly fashion, repeat it to British reporters. It didn’t help that the White House initially said that this bust was not returned to the UK at all but is on display in the White House residence. This is slightly inaccurate, as well, but not as egregiously wrong as the lie that Obama was deliberately insulting the Brits by returning it.

It turns out there are two busts in question. One was originally given to the White House during the Nixon Administration and was put on display in the White House residence. According to the White House website:

The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.

So, as usual, the RW is taking a non-issue and trying to turn it into an international incident.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, June 14th, 2012: GOD WARS

The topic of Monday’s post was the the appearance that a local Baptist pastor had an active political agenda.

Now it’s the Catholics‘ turn.

I received this through an email from Catholics United:

Dear Jane,
I have been an active member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Washington, D.C., for more than 31 years. My faith is my bedrock; my parish is my home.That is why I am worried and deeply saddened to see partisan politics increasingly creeping into our faith community. A few months ago, I attended a meeting at our church when a fellow parishioner publicly expressed outrage that there were cars in the church parking lot that had “Obama bumper stickers.” The intensity of his tone and the fact that I had such a decal made me so uncomfortable that I left the meeting.

In this highly charged election season, the political attacks will only intensify. The “Fortnight for Freedom”* being organized by the Bishops because of their disagreements with the Obama administration should not be brought into our sacred space. They are asking pastors to preach about “religious liberty” and to distribute political statements inside our bulletins. ["...The Fortnight for Freedom campaign runs from June 21 to July 4. It features a variety of events designed to appeal to Catholics of all ages, from a Twitter campaign to a music festival at a winery to traditional Masses to the distribution of 10,000 car magnets promoting religious freedom. Two Kansas bishops have organized rallies in front of government buildings in Topeka and Wichita. Other dioceses are sponsoring conferences and public prayer. Bishops are also encouraging Catholics to pray briefly for religious liberty each day at 3 p.m. in a campaign they dub "A Minute to Win It!"]

But there’s hope. A group of parishioners at my church recently spoke to our pastor about our concerns and he is listening. Click here to find out what we’re doing.

We wrote our pastor a letter and asked him to reconsider our parish’s participation in the “Fortnight for Freedom”. We met with him and expressed our concern that this type of political activity was inappropriate and would cause divisiveness in our community. Our parish had always been a welcoming place where people of all different opinions joined together in worship, heard the Gospel message of Christ and found a source of spiritual strength. We are grateful that our pastor listened and feel that he has taken our concerns seriously.
As the mother of five, and the grandmother of nine, I worry whether these future generations will see the Church as a place that proclaims the expansive message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a place where they will find the abundance of God that will inspire them to go out and serve others in God’s name.
Faithfully,

Eileen Zogby
Parishioner
Blessed Sacrament Parish
Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB, “or NAMBLA”) are still getting their knickers in a twist about the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement; actually, they’re getting even more twisted. Not content with lobbying Congress, they are now marshalling their armies of pedophiles priests and their parishioners across the land. The more liberal (and Christian) folks at Catholics United believe that the bishops are wrong. But the USCCB is digging in its collective heels, just like the GOP, unless they get everything they want from The President of The United States of America.

What, the USCCB should compromise with the President of the United States of America?! “HELL, NO!”

Tax-Exempt Status?! FUCK, NO!

This is our daily open thread — comment on anything you want!

Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 1st, 2012: And Your Advice is Worth???

I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:

“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.

First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”

Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!

“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”

Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?

“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”

I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.

“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”

Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?

“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”

“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”

We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?

Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.

If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?

“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”

“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”

Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”

Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.

“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”

What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?

“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.

That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”

Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!

Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.

Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, October 27th: …and in other news…

After mulling over topics for today’s post, I decided to just present a mixed bag of ‘things that caught my eye on the internets during the past few days.’ The articles range from serious to tongue-in-cheek to outright ridiculous. The following are from Foreign Policy Magazine online and from Newsmax.

From FP: The title of Ryan Caldwell’s article, “An Islamist, a Liberal, and a Former Regime Loyalist Walk into a Cafe”, snagged my attention. The article gave an interesting presentation of the post-Gaddafi views of three Libyans of different stripes working together. Also, for some reason I found it just wondrous that the interview was done via Skype, from Caldwell’s home in California to a cafe in Benghazi. Plus I learned that ‘celebratory gunfire’ is called rasaas al-farah, which means, literally, “bullets of joy.”

From FP: In “Dumb Power: Republicans Introduce the “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” Foreign Policy”, David Rothkopf gives his reaction to the Republican debate on foreign policy.

From Newsmax: In the Newsmax “Breaking News” email, this article was billed as “Thomas Sowell: Herman Cain Is Real Black, Obama Not Typical“. The article includes such tidbits as:

“His prescription for fixing the economy: “I would love to have a constitutional amendment that says politicians are not allowed to intervene in the economy under any circumstances. I think there would be a boom following that.””

From Newsmax: The title of “Hensarling: Supercommittee Need Not Cut Entitlements” sounds hopeful, doesn’t it? Sure…read the whole article: Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of this “Supercommittee”, has some strange ideas. Here’s one:

“I would like to pick up the Internal Revenue Code by its roots and throw it into the nearest trash can. Having said that, realistically, that’s probably a bridge too far for this committee,”


From Newsmax
: And finally, Frank Gaffney being Frank Gaffney:

“Frank Gaffney warned in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview: “I’m afraid there’s a war coming, a very serious, perhaps cataclysmic regional war,” he said. “It will be presumably over, at least in part, the future existence of the state of Israel. It may involve all of its neighbors, as they have in the past, attacking Israel to try, as they say, to drive the Jews into the sea.””

Enjoy!

This is our Open Thread. I’m sure you can find something to say about any one of the above, so Speak Up!

Sunday Roast, October 23rd, 2011: Do Moderates Really Exist?

Eisenhower and Kennedy

Published in the Pawling Press, Pawling, NY, Friday, October 14th, 2011, under the title “If Moderates Ruled…” by Jane Schneider

Note: I wrote the following in response to an opinion piece by the Pawling Press‘s conservative columnist, Mr. Paul Keyishian. Mr. Keyishian’s piece was entitled “When Moderates Ruled the Country”; it should be available in full at http://www.pawlingpress.com next week.

“I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Keyishian’s piece in the October 7th edition of the Pawling Press, wherein Mr. Keyishian discusses the presidencies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, and the positive effects that these administrations’ moderate and forward-thinking policies had on our country. It was an era when science and technology leapt forward, an era when national goals and ambitious aims were lauded, encouraged, and became part of our national identity.

As Mr. Keyishian said, President Eisenhower “had the foresight to anticipate the need for the interstate highway system…”, “And to help stimulate the national economy, while simultaneously assisting those in need, Eisenhower wisely continued the most necessary and efficient New Deal policies of FDR.” About President John F. Kennedy, Mr. Keyishian said, “President Kennedy generally supported policies that were sensible, pragmatic, and humane. His dedication to social justice was exemplified by his support of the civil rights movement, creation of the Peace Corps, and promotion of various programs to assist the underprivileged and oppressed.”

Again, the point of Mr. Keyishian’s piece was that America, under these two moderate, more-or-less centrist, presidencies prospered and became an example to the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, in today’s political terms, these types of programs and policies are now considered to be left-wing, liberal ideals, and are now vilified by politicians and pundits as ‘socialist.’ It appears that the extreme right-wing minority of the conservatives in power has exerted such a gravitational pull that all political ideologies have shifted rightward, out of their natural orbit around the center. For instance, as a liberal, I know that President Obama is centrist, or perhaps marginally left-of-center, yet he is labeled as a liberal (or much, much worse) by pundits. What is terribly sad and foreboding is that such a centrist cannot even propose a national aim or goal, such as investing in the country’s future by becoming a world leader in green technology, without being shouted down – inaccurately – as a socialist. Do the shouters and pundits not remember what, in retrospect, felt like the glory days of America as a world leader and pioneer in technology, particularly space technology? Do they not realize that, if this country is to continue to be a world leader and aspire to such glory again, we must have national goals and dreams that transcend party politics and petty, mundane squabbles?

And do they also not realize that, in those exciting, inspiring years under two moderate Presidents, tax rates for the wealthy soared as high as 90%? Eisenhower and Kennedy did not borrow money to achieve their lofty goals, they used tax revenues to do so. So why is anyone balking today about increasing taxes on the wealthy by a mere 4% or 5% (letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, bringing their rates back to the 39.6%, I believe, under Clinton), when so much needs achieving in today’s United States, and should not be achieved by borrowing more money? A nation so beset by petty and divisive politics desperately needs a national goal, one that will not only inspire Americans, but that will provide jobs, a cleaner environment, less dependency on fossil fuels (thereby reducing certain national security issues), and will instill the American feeling of pride in being part of something that will benefit ourselves and future generations. As the poet Robert Browning put it, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?”

Where are the moderate, far-seeing, pragmatic public servants in today’s political arena? I fear that they are all but extinct.”

Jane E. Schneider

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

Watering Hole: September 9, 2011 – Are you ready for some football?

This is our Open Thread.  That was quite the season opener last evening.  What are your thoughts about last night’s season opener?  Speak Up!

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Nick AndersonHouston Chronicle Editorial Cartoonist and Animation Artist.
For Nick’s animations, visit Nick Anderson: Animation Archives.
For Nick’s cartoons, visit Nick Anderson.

Sunday Roast, August 21st, 2011: Just Say “NO” to Oil

Amidst all of the beer, car, cell phone, erectile dysfunction and other pharmaceutical commercials, lately I’ve been seeing a lot more commercials for various oil and natural gas companies, touting all of the research they do or how ‘clean’ their product is. The latest push from Exxon/Mobil is for “oil sands” technology.

“Oil sands” or “tar sands” according to Wikipedia, are defined as “a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour).” One of the largest deposits is located in Alberta, Canada, and a proposed pipeline, the Keystone XL, to run from Alberta to Texas, is currently the center of a whirlwind of controversy, involving the State Department, Congress, the EPA, ranchers and landowners, environmental activists, protests and arrests, and opposing labor unions.

Whooping Cranes

The Keystone XL, owned by the TransCanada company, starts in Alberta, Canada, home of the magnificently beautiful but endangered Whooping Crane, of which there are only about 400 left. The process by which the oil sands are accessed starts with bulldozing forests, then stripmining, then steam-heating the bitumen product. The proposed 36″ diameter pipeline would run through several states, and more importantly, would run through the Ogalalla Aquifer, the “largest underground reservoir on the planet”, part of which is located under the Sandhills of Nebraska. Existing pipelines from the Alberta oil sands facility to parts of the U.S. have already had a history of leaks, including last year’s spill into the Kalamazoo River. Why would anyone even entertain the notion that the 2000-mile-long proposed pipeline would be less likely to be plagued by the same problems? I seriously urge everyone to read the entire Incite article (also linked to above), as well as related articles in this month’s edition of the Audubon magazine, as this post cannot encompass all of the pertinent information, including the sleazy and despicable actions of TransCanada in their efforts to force affected landowners off their lands.

While billions upon billions of dollars are being poured into this proposed pipeline, estimates of U.S. jobs the project could purportedly create are only around 20,000 – a mere drop in the bucket considering the millions of unemployed right now. Are 20,000 jobs really worth the possibility of a slow leak or spill in such a varied and important range of ecosystems through which the pipeline would pass, and especially the possibility of a catastrophic leak into an underground reservoir which serves as a water supply to eight states? The Final Environmental Impact Statement is due out around now, and, once it is published, the Obama Administration has 90 days to review it and make a decision. I sincerely hope that they come to the conclusion that a mere 20,000 jobs is not worth the potentially disastrous risks, and give this proposed pipeline the thumbs down that it deserves.

This is our Sunday open thread — What do you think?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday August 2nd – Where were you?

Listen again. It seems you have forgotten.

He said it wasn’t going to be easy. He said he needed you to help him bring about the change you voted him into office for. Americans where were you these last three years? Nagging about him not handing you the change you have envisioned on a silver platter? Weren’t you Monday morning quarterbacking decisions he had to make, because there was no support at all from you for any other way?  Didn’t you stand at the sideline when the so called Tea Party took over the public discourse and turned your Congress into a blackmailing outfit? You need to take your country back, for you are the majority, but you can’t stay out of the political struggle any minute longer. The Tea Party cannot and will not be contained, because they don’t accept that they are chosen by the people, they think they are answering the call of some higher power. They do not function the way politicians do. They, frankly, don’t care about your country. They don’t care about the human beings who make up you the People. All they care about is power and they know how to wield it. But in Democracy you the People are  the supreme power. No Deity, no President, no Congressman, no Senator. You are the supreme power. So live up to your responsibility already and fight back. The streets are just outside your front door. I refuse to believe it is too late.

Elsewhere: The people of Hama face tanks and machine guns to try and take back their country!

This is our open thread. Come on!

Some links to what Europe writes:

Der Spiegel
The Economist
The Guardian
The Independent

Libya, Obama, and the Relevance of the War Powers Act

Due to the recent controversy over whether or not President Obama needed Congressional approval to take action in Libya, our bloggy friend, 5thstate, recently took an in-depth look at what the War Powers Act of 1973 actually says and what it requires of the President.

What he found might be surprising to most laymen and Congresspeople…

In a Huffington Post opinion piece of March 29th, 2011, Representative Mike Honda, the co-chairperson of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Peace and Security Taskforce, took issue with the President’s use of US military forces with regard to the month-old Libyan uprising that, after three weeks of popular, political and geographic momentum had not only stalled in its progress but was under threat of total destruction by Moammar Ghaddafi’s resource-rich, formally-trained, and overwhelmingly better-equipped forces.

The key concern remains the lack of Congressional involvement and oversight. The War Powers Act of 1973, created after the Vietnam War to ensure legislative checks and balances before and during wartime situations, limits the president’s ability to commit armed forces to conditions that are not met in this case.

If the U.S. wants to lead and inspire the world in setting the standard for good governance, getting this executive-legislative relationship right is critical.

Mike Honda, Democrat

The thrust of Representative Honda’s complaint is shared by several other Democratic Party members and by many Republicans too, representing a rare (these days) shared bipartisan concern over not only policy but also legal and constitutional issues — which would be encouraging if the expressed concerns from both sides of the political aisle shared the same motivation for complaint, and even if, regardless of motivation, they were based on direct knowledge rather than vague interpretation and practical fact rather than conjectural fantasy.

Rep. Mike Honda:

The War Powers Act of 1973, created after the Vietnam War to ensure legislative checks and balances before and during wartime situations, limits the president’s ability to commit armed forces…

Wrong — and for so many reasons!

1973 War Powers Act:

Sec. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced—

(1) into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances;

 

(2) into the territory, airspace or waters of a foreign nation, while equipped for combat, except for deployments which relate solely to supply, replacement, repair, or training of such forces; or

(3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the President shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth—

(A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;

 

(B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and

 

(C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

 

[Sec. 4](b) The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad. (Emphasis added)

First of all; the constitutionality of any Act or general action is decided by a given, sitting, Supreme Court; the War Powers Act was not established as being constitutional by the 1973 Supreme Court and has never been ratified or struck-down by the SCOTUS since, because it has never been placed on the Supreme Court’s docket—the invocation of “constitutional responsibilities” in the War Powers Act verbiage is a rhetorical argument only, not a matter of legal fact, but never mind that; theoretically any Act passed by Congress is both legal and constitutional until tested and proven otherwise, thus the War Powers Act is actually legal, absent a specific test of constitutionality.

Continue reading

Watering Hole, Thursday, October 21st: Idle Chit-Chat

“I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

I am a Customer Service Specialist for a “major footcare products company” (no, NOT the-one-who-shall-not-be-named, rhymes with, oh, let’s say ‘Proctor Moles.) I speak to people all over the country (and Canada) each day, taking orders, answering questions, etc. Sometimes people will chat, sometimes not. The elderly customers seem to be the most talkative, often commenting that it’s ‘nice to talk with a real person.’ Conversational topics can cover foot problems, other health issues, the weather, high prices, and pretty much anything else you can think of. And I really mean anything.

In my sixteen or so years of listening to these customers, the subject of Presidential assassination never came up before.

“I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

These words were spoken to me, almost idly, by a 91-year-old woman while I was taking her footcare order. While I was taking a minute or two to set up account information for her, she rambled on about the elderly-care residence where she lived, which was apparently part of a good-sized chain of facilities in her state. I began getting her order set up, while she continued about how this chain had been planning expansions, but the bad economy stopped those plans. At this point she lowered her voice a trifle, saying, “That Obama has got to go.” She paused, then followed with, “I’m surprised someone hasn’t killed him yet.”

I was actually dumbstruck for a couple of moments. I could not have responded immediately, because whatever I said would NOT have come out politely. I took a deep breath and eventually replied lightly, “I’d love to discuss politics with you all day, but my bosses frown on that,” and finished up her order and the phone call.

…..What the?….

What in the world has become of the people in this country of ours, that the possible assassination of a sitting President is now deemed acceptable as idle ‘polite’ chit-chat with a stranger?

With all of the infinitely more nasty things that we see every day from fearmongering politicians and pundits, why do I find this incident so oddly disturbing?

Seriously, someone tell me, why?

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to add your thoughts on this, or any other topic that comes to mind.

“Can We Send You A Sticker?”

David Plouffe wrote to me asking me if they could send me a bumper sticker. I’ll blockquote what he said with my response in between.

“Can we send you a sticker?”!

Let’s review your reasoning as to why I would want a bumper sticker that says “Democrats Change That Matters”:

“In the last two years, it’s been supporters like you who’ve redefined what it means to be a Democrat.”

Well, hardly. Apparently what it means to be a Democrat is: – to completely forget that we, the people, elected President Obama and the Democratic Majority to enact progressive legislation; – to roll over for the Republican Minority at the least sign of opposition; – to cave to big-money special interests; and – to continue as many of the previous administration’s illegal wrongdoings as possible.

There’s a renewed commitment toward organizing — which you helped instill with the campaign in 2008. That’s why Democrats have launched the most ambitious voter-turnout effort we’ve ever seen for an election like the one this fall. There’s a renewed commitment toward taking on the special interests and opposing their agenda — a promise you’ve helped us keep time and time again. And even though we don’t take money from lobbyists or corporate PACs, we’re still raising more money than the Republicans, month after month. With this renewed focus, the Democrats have introduced a new website filled with innovations to better connect supporters with candidates, state parties, and each other — and a new look to match that message.

- toward organizing voter turnout and taking on the special interests? How can you renew a commitment that you never really had? And you’re showing this supposed commitment by…”introduc[ing] a new website“?!

With just weeks to go in a critical election season, we want to help show that moving this country forward is a commitment shared by Americans across the states. So we’re giving away thousands of free stickers to help people show their support. Can we send you one? It’s what you helped build that laid the groundwork for this new commitment for our party. And together, we’ve spent the last year and a half building a new foundation for our country. Everything Democrats have accomplished — from reforming a broken health care system to reining in the Wall Street banks that were out of control — has been because of you. It’s something to be proud of. And I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to put that pride on display

The U.S. healthcare system won’t really be reformed until the health of American citizens is no longer considered as a commodity, and the out-of-control Wall Street banks are starting up their same old tricks. In this critical election season, Democrats need to loudly and publicly point out the blatant lies and hypocrisy of their opponents They need to loudly and publicly point out the ignorance and idiocy of the Tea Partiers’ so-called platform, and to loudly and publicly point out the real power and the huge money behind them. Democrats need to fight! Maybe then I’ll answer your question, “Can we send you a sticker?” in the affirmative. Even though I’m not a registered Democrat, I’d be proud of those accomplishments.

Financial Regulation: The President’s Speech on Wall Street Reform

Source: The White House

This is a full transcript of President Obama’s Speech on Wall Street Reform in Cooper Union. A video is not yet available.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you very much.  Well, thank you.  It is good to be back.  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in New York, it is good to be back in the Great Hall at Cooper Union.  (Applause.)

We’ve got some special guests here that I want to acknowledge.  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is here in the house.  (Applause.)  Governor David Paterson is here.  (Applause.)  Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  (Applause.)  State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is here.  (Applause.)  The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.  (Applause.)  Dr. George Campbell, Jr., president of Cooper Union.  (Applause.)  And all the citywide elected officials who are here.  Thank you very much for your attendance.

It is wonderful to be back in Cooper Union, where generations of leaders and citizens have come to defend their ideas and contest their differences.  It’s also good to be back in Lower Manhattan, a few blocks from Wall Street.  (Laughter.)  It really is good to be back, because Wall Street is the heart of our nation’s financial sector.

Now, since I last spoke here two years ago, our country has been through a terrible trial.  More than 8 million people have lost their jobs.  Countless small businesses have had to shut their doors.  Trillions of dollars in savings have been lost — forcing seniors to put off retirement, young people to postpone college, entrepreneurs to give up on the dream of starting a company.  And as a nation we were forced to take unprecedented steps to rescue the financial system and the broader economy.

And as a result of the decisions we made — some of which, let’s face it, were very unpopular — we are seeing hopeful signs.  A little more than one year ago we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month.  Today, America is adding jobs again.  One year ago the economy was shrinking rapidly.  Today the economy is growing.  In fact, we’ve seen the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly three decades.

But you’re here and I’m here because we’ve got more work to do.  Until this progress is felt not just on Wall Street but on Main Street we cannot be satisfied.  Until the millions of our neighbors who are looking for work can find a job, and wages are growing at a meaningful pace, we may be able to claim a technical recovery — but we will not have truly recovered.  And even as we seek to revive this economy, it’s also incumbent on us to rebuild it stronger than before.  We don’t want an economy that has the same weaknesses that led to this crisis.  And that means addressing some of the underlying problems that led to this turmoil and devastation in the first place.
Now, one of the most significant contributors to this recession was a financial crisis as dire as any we’ve known in generations — at least since the ’30s.  And that crisis was born of a failure of responsibility — from Wall Street all the way to Washington — that brought down many of the world’s largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: March 4, Your President and Me.

I am in the process of reducing smoking again and I am down to 1 cigarette a day. I never smoked a single cigarette during my pregnancies, but was looking forward for ten months until I could light up again. Crazy? Yes.

But then, that’s what I share with Barack Obama. Not the pregnancies, silly, but the habit.

So how is it? Have you ever smoked? Are you smoking? How often have you tried to quit?

This is our open thread, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on this or on anythings else.

In case you missed it…

This was a great moment yesterday in politics.. President Obama spoke at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore. The Republicans agreed beforehand to open it up to the cameras. I can’t imagine today that they are happy they did, but the rest of America benefitted from it.

The exchange that took place between the president and the GOP in the following Q & A was simply amazing.. I am so glad I didn’t miss it. It was just excellent, the best I can remember seeing. This is what I have been wanting and waiting to see and hear. It was honest and real, respectful and non-confrontational. I am just so proud of President Obama..

Here’s the transcript of the entire exchange (printed in the WP). I especially enjoyed what Mark Ambinder at The Atlantic posted following the exchange between the president and his GOP members in the audience.