Boy, some people having a great time trying to pin what is happening in Syria and in Russian-American relations completely on the Obama administration. Situations that grew over decades, even centuries, simply aren't solvable by one U.S. administration and its foreign policy, certainly not an administration that took the reins of government with two wars raging and a depression threatening.
What caused the rupture between the U.S. and Russia? Most of the recent problems arose during the Bush years. Russia and Georgia fought the 2008 South Ossetia war. Poland was one of the leaders in condemning Russia and supporting Georgia. The Bush administration and Poland signed an agreement to install an interceptor missile system in Poland, against strenuous Russian objections. Then-Russian President Medvedev reacted by stating that the missile system was a direct provocation to Russia, making Poland a legitimate target in any conflict. Also, remember that during the Clinton administration Poland joined NATO, upsetting Russia's military strategy.
Add to all that the fact that Russia's only remaining naval installation on the Mediterranean is in Syria in a deal worked out by Assad and company and you have the rationale for Russia's adamant support of the Assad regime. Plus, you have the fact that Putin and Obama simply don't like or trust one another, neither did Putin and Bush.
There is an ancient feud being worked out by war in the Middle East. The Sunnis hate the Shia and vice versa. Iran wants to be the regional power, but so do Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We're hated by pretty much everyone there, and Russia and China are trying to take advantage of that fact. In many ways, the Middle East is a conglomeration of tribes, all distrustful of one another, at best. We're caught in the midst for several reasons. We still need Saudi oil. We will never betray in any way our ally, Israel. We are still looked upon as the world's remaining major power by the rest of the world (and by ourselves, too).
Those who support climate action but say it's not worth fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline like to imply that President Obama's approval of the pipeline would earn him political capital. But the head of one polluter front group would like to assure Washington that whether President Obama approves or rejects Keystone XL, Big Oil will still hate him just as much.
Grist's David Roberts has extensively documented the Very Serious People BipartisanThink case against #noKXL activists. As Jennifer Yachnin reports in E&E News (sub. req.), a top oil industry lobbyist says they're wrong - that Big Oil will fight any efforts to cut carbon pollution tooth & nail regardless of President Obama's Keystone decision:
But [American Energy Alliance and Institute for Energy Research President Thomas] Pyle added that approving the pipeline won't curb industry criticism of the Obama administration, including over what it sees as efforts to hold back oil and gas production on federal lands.
"I don't know that it buys him any good will," Pyle said. "There will be lots of statements of thank you ... but ultimately from a political perspective I don't know that it buys him any room to maneuver."
And ill will could linger over how much time it has taken the administration to make a final decision on the pipeline, Pyle added.
All the climate-disrupting carbon pollution and not even a thank you from his political enemies? All the more reason President Obama should do the right thing and reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
There are times in political history when we are privileged to see a new coalition forming around a charismatic leader who leads the way to a changed nation, hopefully changed for the better. We may be seeing that happen right now. The future will reveal whether Barack Obama has pulled off that feat. That happened in the 1930's with the coalition of FDR. On the GOP side, it happened during the Reagan years. When such a political alignment takes place, the most important component is the younger generation, people who will form political opinions and voting habits that, for them, may well last a lifetime.
In the 2012 election, 19% of the electorate was composed of young people 18-29.That's a larger percentage than either Latinos (10%) or African-Americans (15%). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to add up those three groups. That means 44% of the electorate voted for the President with at least 60% of the vote. Add in the gender gap (12%), while remembering that women make up the majority of voters, and there is a bleak future for the GOP if it doesn't radically re-invent itself. White men can't win elections for them any longer.
Matthew Segal, president of the younger generation advocacy group Our Time, points out that it may be a very good thing to have that generation exert a bigger influence in elections. He says that younger Americans are "pragmatic," having moved past some of the "ridiculous political discourse going on today."
"Growing up in a technological era, we trust science and data. Denying climate change, denying facts about abortion, denying the Bureau of Labor Statistics defies logic," Segal said. "Part of pragmatism is also compromise, and we reject ideologues who would risk our nation's credit rating to make a political point."
The enormity of the problem surrounding world hunger and starvation has often been an argument used by my circle of friends and acquaintances to turn our collective attention away from the issue. The issue of global hunger and starvation is unequivocally a daunting problem for any country, let alone a group of individuals. Nonetheless, it is an issue that jars one's complacency once a few straightforward facts are known.
First, there are nearly one billion individuals in the world today who are "malnourished." A significant part of the problem has been the inability of the world to increase its production of food. That is, the world food production may have reached a plateau.
Here is a staggering figure, however: "Nearly 60% of global land deals in the last decade have been to grow crops that can be used for bio fuels, says Oxfam." Thus, America's own Renewable Fuel Standard which mandates 13 BILLION gallons of bio fuel be produced in 2012 as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and foreign oil imports has contributed to the world's inability to produce food for human consumption.
The silver lining for the U.S. and the world is that the policy can be reworked or completely revoked. It's clear that one of the two needs to occur, and quickly.
Bill Scher is right. Stop reading the polls and read the debate transcript instead. And here's what to do next:
First, remember Reagan's loss of the first debate in 1984? Did Reagan go on to lose the election? No. Remember John Kerrey's win of the first debate in 2004? Did he win the electon? No. The debates usually mean squat. And now they have deteriorated to the point of meaningless show. But what your parade of idiots has done meanwhile is fan a whole new round of poll results. Their fumes have continued unabated and are creating the beginnings of a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you do not STFU, and SOON, you will destroy Democrats' chances. You are taking the worst, most awkward, most unqualified (by virtue of his own conflicts of interest and reckless and inhumane business habits), and most untruthful candidate in a century and making him more viable. The man is the essence of what is wrong with our country's Wall Streeters. And you try to render him credible while he spews more lies per hour than any pol has ever done?
He plans to destroy nearly every program that helps ordinary Americans. He plans to steal our educational institutions, programs for the poor, retirements and then lies about it. Do not let him get away with it. He plans to launch endless war, give our money to the rich (trickle up). He plans to gut regulation (despite his lies last Wednesday). Don't let him get away with it. It's drill, baby, drill. And forget the consequences to Americans.
Then, second, remember this: The debate transcript is chock full of ammunition to defeat Mitt Romney, every single lie in it. Comb through it. Write more about it. Talk it up on the airwaves. A few (like Think Progress and even the NYT) have done it, but not most of you. As the U2 song says "You're stuck and in the moment and you can't get out of it."
(Romney does his Mr. Burns imitation - unleash the HOUNDS on those coal workers if they don't comply!!! - promoted by lowkell)
As has been a common theme of the Mitt Romney campaign, seemingly sound political moves have turned into unequivocal political nightmares . In a new political ad that will run in swing states Virginia and Ohio, Team Romney pulled video footage from a recent Ohio rally that shows Ohio coal miners flanking the presidential candidate as the ad goes on to blast President Obama for "ruining the coal industry."
Not only do many of the coal miners look unenthused about participating in the rally, they apparently had little reason to be. According to Politico, "they [the coal miners in the ad] were pulled out of the mine to join the Republican candidate" (i.e. forced to take the day off without pay). Do you mean to say that Romney forced workers out of a job (snark!)?
Of course, the free market has ruined the coal industry, not President Obama. Given Mitt Romney's supposedly free market beliefs, one would think that the former Bain Capital CEO would have few qualms about the cheap flood of natural gas that has pushed coal to second-class status as a source of energy.
With regards to human and environmental health, Mitt Romney is unequivocally on the opposite side of each and his stance on President Obama's "extreme" fuel efficiency standards for trucks and cars is no exception.
Romney has publicly slammed President Obama's fuel efficiency standards on numerous occasions in 2012 (all Romney positions should be dated to give everyone a better idea of which "Mitt" is being referred to). Romney told The Detroit News in June that he would look for "a better way of encouraging fuel economy" than the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) requirements.
More recently, a spokesperson for Romney reemphasized his opposition to CAFÉ requirements, claiming that savings accrued from CAFÉ "will be wiped out by having to pay thousands of dollars more upfront for unproven technology that they may not even want." Could it be that the Romney campaign is being disingenuous, again? Of course!
Even according to the automaker-bankrolled Center for Automotive Research, 56 mpg would help consumers save enough on gas to pay for the increased vehicle prices within 3 to 4 years of ownership. Whoops! Another Team Romney oversight, perhaps?
Until the Democratic and Republican Conventions, discussion about climate change had been almost nonexistent. It was during the conventions that President Obama and Willard the climate change denier crossed verbal swords in a fight over the presence of man-made climate change.
In his charmingly uncharming way, Romney joked about President Obama's efforts to halt man-made climate change at the Republican Convention, stating that "President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet." Ha...ha...ha. Maybe Romney has hedged his bets in favor of our planet's destruction.
At the ensuing Democratic Convention the following week, President Obama admitted that he would continue to support policies combating climate change. President Obama noted, "Yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet...". How dare our president attempt to do the right thing!
Climate change and its terrible effects are hardly a laughing matter. Yet Mitt Romney does it with such an alacrity that I often wonder if he believes other people actually matter.
A common phrase within the Republican Party, and by the Romney campaign, is that "[States] know how best to police the activity." Its repetition has become so common that this phrase has entered the GOP's Hall of Mantra fame.
But the idea that states "know best" when it comes to energy policy disregards the common national interest that MUST be taken into account when high-impact decisions are being made, like drilling the Marcellus Shale, for example. The decision by one state to drill the Marcellus Shale for natural gas could have negative consequences for neighboring states, creating the potential for an inter-state conflict that the federal government may only be able to resolve.
In Virginia, the potential for mining and processing uranium ore in Pittsylvania County could have tremendous negative consequences for Virginians and North Carolinians alike. Gov. McDonnell and the state GOP believe they "know best," but in their haste to exploit an abundant resource, how much do they really know? If peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed scientific study confirms an unacceptable level of risk involved in the mining and processing of uranium, should the federal government cave in to the idea that states "know best" and allow the process to occur? Mitt Romney would most likely say "yes."
When Mitt Romney pledged to "restore America's promise" at the Republican National Convention, he must have been assuming that America's "promise" lies in dirty air and nonrenewable forms of energy. Like many of Mitt Romney's policies, his policy positions on the environment are not as well known as they should be.
Here are a few of Willard's environmental positions: "no" to wind power subsides; "no" to the EPA's ability to regulate America's carbon emissions; "yes" to Big Oil and Big Oil interests.
In other words, Mitt Romney's environmental policies would do more to harm America than to "restore America's promise."
And Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, where does he stand on environmental issues? While Ryan's ability to complete his P90X fitness routine is impressive, his environmental record isn't.
It's just astonishing to us how long this campaign has gone on with no discussion of what's happening to poor people. Official Washington continues to see poverty with tunnel vision - "out of sight, out of mind."
Too often poor people are forgotten in our politics.
It is appropriate to read the words of Moyers on this topic on this day, which would be the 104th birthday of his mentor, Prsident Lyndon Baines Johnson, vastly underrated as a President, whose Great Society programs did as much to alleviate poverty and discrimination in this country as did any other President, being matched only by the New Deal of FDR (which unfortunately did not address discrimination).
How far has America stepped away from even the veneer that honesty and integrity are essential attributes of our country's elected officials, especially those poised to capture the highest political office in the country? Am I wrong to even assume that these attributes were even once important to Americans? If I am right, then Mitt Romney's serious candidacy for presidency of the U.S. flies completely in the face of this assumption.
Mitt Romney is a man who lies through his teeth at the drop of a dime (or in his case, a bar of gold). Sure, all politicians stretch the truth from time to time (some more so than others) or even sometimes outright lie. But I will argue that there is, among the vast majority of politicians, some foundation of beliefs that will not and cannot be compromised (maybe not Cantor though).
Then there's Mitt Romney, a man seemingly motivated only by the lust for the highest political office in the world, the U.S. presidency. Having established and succeeded at Bain Capital (to the chagrin of thousands of U.S. workers), Romney's exit appears to have signaled his ambition to tackle another spot on his checklist for power, the White House. With his considerable wealth in tow, it was time to take the game to the next level.
Today, Sen. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine joined President Barack Obama for a Grassroots Rally in Roanoke at the historic Firehouse 1. An overflow crowd of more than 2,000 filled the street to hear the President give a speech filled with optimism for the future combined with a promise to work throughout a second term to regain for the middle class the American dream that seemed to vanish during the Bush years.
The President reminded us that the change we hoped for four years ago hasn't been as fast as we wanted or as complete as we hoped for, but if we remain true to the vision that the way to grow the economy is not from the top down, but from the middle out and the bottom up, all the nation can prosper once again, not just the top 2% of Americans.
President Obama remarked that in 2008 when he visited Roanoke, political pundits said he was not serious in the visit but just covering all bases, However, he stated he intends to show the pundits again that, "I'm going to get some votes down here." He also promised us that if he wins Virginia, "I'm going to get four more years." He's absolutely correct.
For three decades, the struggle to "free" the markets met with accelerating success. Regulations forged from the lessons of 1920s' excesses were discarded one after another. Simultaneously, innovation in finance provided new ways to leverage risk. Obama recognized peril in the economy, but no one perceived the imminent danger.
"We've got eight years of disastrous economic policy. That's what we're going to change when I'm President of the United States." - candidate Barack Obama
Obama realized very early in the campaign that the economy was getting worse and decided to run on that issue: 'My opponent doesn't see it and I can fix it.' He had traveled to Wall Street to push for a change in its ways.
The Cooper Union speech had been Obama's message that we have to rein in Wall Street; resume more aggressive regulation. He was talking about regulation before anyone was talking about regulation, before the writing was on the wall. Austan Goolsbee remembers that the reaction was not great, "but to his credit, it did not keep him from laying it out."
"He was talking about the idea of making sure that the ethics of Wall Street was pure and that we were doing the business that we should be doing." - Robert Wolf, Chairman UBS Americas
The third segment of the Frontline series, Money, Power, and Wall Street begins at the end of the 2008 campaign. The economy was melting. The Bush administration was leaving. The inauguration was 76 days away. This was the most eventful and consequential Presidential transition in American history. In Chicago, President elect Obama watched the economy continue to collapse. Obama was getting a real glimpse of the future: disaster was coming. In those first weeks after the election, the entire economic team he had assembled was stunned by the bad news. They had been advising him for months, warning him. Meanwhile, there was really no one in the departing administration managing it. There was no political will; no one in charge.
In 2008, free-wheeling, unfettered markets toppled, erasing $11 trillion of American's net worth and 8.5 million jobs. Right, don't blame Bush; blame the entire bankrupt, oversimplified "conservative philosophy" and its blind eye to history. It all will become clearer in this election year, the bad hand Barack Obama was dealt.
Yet another reason for Republicans to attack public broadcasting: Frontline's series: Money, Power, and Wall Street is helping set the record straight. Incompetence, malfeasance, and reliance on an economic philosophy that rationalizes policy rather than providing safeguards against illegitimate market action are the underlying themes. All of this complements of Republican and private sector influence.
The first episode of this "Election 2012 Special Event" provides an engaging glimpse into the development of a new unregulated market in the securities sector built on an instrument that spread like poisonous kudzu throughout the financial world. From humble beginnings at JP Morgan in an effort to abate the risk exposure to an Exxon line of credit following the Exxon-Valdez disaster, credit default swaps (a kind of derivative that insures a loan against default) became common instruments even in the predatory lending galaxy, usually insulated and isolated in the legitimate financial universe. The stage was set.
The Barack Obama campaign has apparently made a decision to run to the right of mainstream America on environmental issues. That's their choice, but if they don't want to fire up environmentalists to fight to re-elect President Obama, why are they now launching a ham-handed Environmentalists for Obama campaign?
The Obama campaign released this video in conjunction with Earth Day, but as ClimateProgress' Joe Romm points out, it makes no mention of global warming, the biggest threat to Earth's life and ecosystems. That's why I say the Obama campaign is running to the right of America - poll after poll shows a majority of Americans understand the threat posed by climate change, but the Obama campaign has apparently chosen to ignore the majority's concerns and instead woo the skeptical minority. Best of luck with that.
Also noticeably absent from President Obama's Earth Day outreach to environmentalists - wildlife. The video shows beautiful landscapes and depicts them as great habitats for mountain bikers and little else. Really? Not even a quick shot of a bald eagle, that great Endangered Species Act success story?
I was most confused and frankly insulted by the Obama campaign having their man go on and on about "energy independence." This is supposed to be the environmentalist pitch and you're talking to me not about less drilling and fewer oil spills, but about national security?
Environmentalists are ready to be fired up to re-elect President Obama. But if his campaign doesn't know how to drop the cold-blooded calculated messaging for even two minutes to inspire their base, a key opportunity could be lost.
Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are? If you've been following his campaign from the beginning, that's a question you have probably asked many times.
That's how the Nobel Economic Laureate begins this column this morning, immediately reminding us that Romney appeared at a drywall factory (owned by a Republican, btw) which was closed during the Bush administration yet blaming Obama for the closure, attempting to make it a symbol. As Krugman notes, "It was a symbol, all right - but not in the way he intended," especially as the press quickly picked up on when the factory closed. And although the Romney campaign attempted to cover itself by saying the factory was still closed because Obama's policies had failed to get the economy going again, Krugman counters saying, "Actually, that factory would probably still be closed even if the economy had done better - drywall is mainly used in new houses, and while the economy may be coming back, the Bush-era housing bubble isn't."
Perhaps some will be surprised by this post. After all, I have been and remain highly critical of the administration on a number of issue, most notably on education.
Some may remember my post in February, Dear Mr. President,, in which I raised some of my concerns as a teacher. Yet even in that post I noted
There are things your administration has done that we respect, at least most of us. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act meant large numbers of teachers and other public employees did not lose their jobs. Under ARRA, for the first time ever the Federal government for two years just about met its commitment to provide 40% of the average additional costs imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. There was also the $10 billion in funds to support local government employment that also save some jobs. We acknowledge these things.
I have been a critic because I want this President to succeed. I approach things keeping in mind both a candidate who said that change comes from the bottom and that he wanted us to come to Washington with him to make that change, and a former President, FDR, who once told supporters: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."
This President HAS done a lot of good. This President HAS made a difference. This President HAS earned the right to continue in office.
According to the brand new NBC/Marist poll of Virginia, it looks like the Republicans' war on women isn't playing too well with Virginia registered voters. Nor is the extended Republican presidential nominating contest, in which utterly-out-of-touch-with-normal-humans Willard "Mitt" Romney, Ayatollah Rick Santorum, and Egomaniac Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich spend 24/7 (and tens of millions of dollars) trying desperately to out-crazy and out-extreme each other. Meanwhile, President Obama continues on his steady, sane, moderate way, as the economy recovers and Americans feel increasingly optimistic about where we're heading. The results?
*51% of Virginian registered voters (RVs) approve of the job President Obama is doing, while just 39% disapprove.
*If the election were held today, Obama would crush Romney by 17 points (52%-35%), Ron Paul by 21 points (53%-32%), and Rick Santorum by 22 points (54%-32%).
*By a 14-point majority (53%-39%), Virginia RVs believe the "worst is behind us" when it comes to the economy, with a 2:1 margin of Virginia RVs saying the economy will get better in the next 12 months (40% say it will stay the same).
*For some bizarre reason, Virginians continue to approve of Bob McDonnell's job performance, by a 51%-30% margin, even though he's shown absolutely no leadership on transportation, has actually HURT the economic recovery, and his reverted to his "Taliban Bob" ways of late. I don't get this one at all, except that Virginians always seem to approve of their governors, no matter what they do (possible exception: Jim Gilmore?).
*Tim Kaine leads George Allen by 9 points, 48%-39%. As numerous polls have now shown, Barack Obama is consistently out-polling Tim Kaine in Virginia. My guess is that this has to do with the abysmal Republican presidential nominating contest, while Allen mostly skates along unscathed by his Republican "rivals" (in quotes, because so far none of them have shown that they pose even a remote threat to Allen's nomination). Anyway, these numbers call into serious question whether Allen's strategy of tying Kaine to Obama might not actually HELP Kaine rather than hurt him, given Obama's wide margin over Romney or Santorum.
*In terms of party ID, 50% of Virginia RVs call themselves Democrats or Independents who lean Democratic. That compares to just 35% of Virginia RVs calling themselves Republicans or Republican-leaning Independents.
*71% of Virginia RVs say they are NOT Tea Party supporters, versus just 21% who say they are (only 6% of Virginia RVs say they "strongly support" the Tea Party).
*Willard "Mitt" Romney is headed for a crushing win over Ron Paul (his only opponent on the ballot) this Tuesday, probably by 40-50 points.
How accurate is this poll compared to other polls? For starters, it's wildly different than the recent, Roanoke College poll, which showed George Allen leading Tim Kaine by 8 points (Kaine called that poll an "outlier;" it will be interesting to hear what he thinks about the NBC/Marist poll). It's more in sync with Public Policy Polling, which had Obama and Kaine both looking good in Virginia. There also was a Q-Poll, which had Obama leading Romney by 4 points (47%-43%), and Kaine leading Allen by 1 point (45%-44%). Personally, I'd rather be cautious, so I'll conclude that both Obama and Kaine are slightly ahead in Virginia (although I'd love to believe the NBC/Marist poll is correct, of course, and it certainly might be). What do you think?
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