Archive for January 2012
The State of Union. The Political Superbowl. The day when policy is the talk of nation. What do you want to do to help the US, and how are you going to do it. Sure, it’s all politics, it’s all theater, it’s all feeding the beast.
But it is really all policy, and for policy nerds, it’s a great event.
TRC is watching for several points outside of the main event, which apparently will be the “middle class.” TRC wants to hear about energy and climate change, a desire to strengthen the space program, technology support and funding for R&D regardless of the Solyndra mess, gay marriage, a few other things.
The Republican Party has declared their number 1 priority: Defeating Obama in 2012. TRC wants to know what Obama is going to do to make sure that does not happen. We all know that President Obama cannot pass any legislation this year, so, Mr President, what are you going to do about?
We’ll be sure to let you know what we think.
TRC is a pretty big fan of Senator Amy Klobuchar. She strikes me as an exemplar of the modern national representative, and I’m happy to have her represent my state in the Senate. That’s not to say we agree on everything (i.e. this bridge, which passed the Senate yesterday–more on this forthcoming), but that does not mean that I have anything but the utmost admiration for her.
And thus, I’m happy to see her polling numbers continue their climb in the latest polling data on Minnesota. She now holds a 61% approval rating in Minnesota, with a negative of 29%. A remarkable achievement, I would say, in this era of extreme partisanship. This makes her the 6th most popular Senator in the US.
As for other Minnesotans, apparently running for president does not help one’s approval ratings. Michelle Bachmann holds a 34% favoribility rating and 57 % negative. That same 57% think she should not run for another term in Congress. Yeesh. Tim Pawlenty also took a hit. 39% view him favorably. 51% said they would ‘definitely not’ support in in a statewide election.
Both Bachmann and Pawlenty have been seen as possible opponents for Klobuchar. How would that go as of today?
In a hypothetical match-up with Pawlenty or Bachmann, Klobuchar also comes out on top. Against Pawlenty, the poll shows her ahead against Pawlenty 54 percent to 39 percent and against Bachmann 58 percent to 35 percent.
I feel like TRC has been hitting the dirt lately. So I wanted to take a time out to praise Senator Klobuchar, and wish her luck in 2012. But I don’t think she’ll need it.
According to John Boehner, the currents Speaker of the US House of Representatives, President Obama, the current, democratically elected President of the United States of America is “almost un-American.” Isn’t that amazing?
Here’s the actual quote.
This is a president who said I’m not going to be a divider, I’m going to be a uniter, and running on the politics of division and envy is – to me it’s almost un-American
One has to simply marvel at the use of the qualifier ‘almost’ in that sentence. Is there a chart somewhere in the possession of House Republicans that details individual Americanness? How many more unfavorable decisions does Obama need to finally be pushed over the line that denotes almost un-American from actually un-American? I wonder where slandering the President as un-American falls on that chart.
Frankly, this made be puke a little. Such disrespect for the President is commonplace on the campaign trail, from the loud-mouthed Tea Partiers and the crazy right-wing folks who think Obama is a secret Muslim looking to bring Sharia Law into the halls of Government. But to hear it from John Boehner is truly disappointing. He’s a good guy, I thought, who disagreed with Obama’s policies but did not sink into the gutter.
Boehner also said his goal is to ”work with the president.” Clearly.
Tonight is the State of the Union Address, delivered by our President every year to remind us that our country is still trotting along, if perhaps not quite as smoothly as we would prefer. Since the President is likely still writing frantically to determine what it is he will say tonight, here are four suggestions.
- It is not my desire to increase the power of the Executive Branch. I understand that making executive decisions creates worries about constitutional overreach and concerns that I am hungry for more power. This is never my desire. But the United States needs to have action at this time. We have started down the road to economic recovery, and the Legislative Branch has made clear that they prefer economic stagnation for political gain rather than sound policies to encourage the economic progress we have made. I cannot allow that as President. I cannot allow a year of economic improvement to be halted due to intransigence. And thus, if Congress leaves no other options, I will do what I can to improve the lives of Americans. Even if it makes me a one-term President.
- This is an election year, and there is likely to be a great deal of election rhetoric. But I will not be boxed in by Congress. My administration is willing to look at any proposals that are brought forward, but we are not willing to be put in a corner and scolded; told what to do by a party unwilling to compromise. I have demonstrated this by rejecting a rushed, unnecessary deadline imposed on the Keystone XL pipeline. I hope that we can put election year politics aside and work on real issues. If we can’t, so be it, but do not expect a punching bag.
- We need a fairer tax code in this country. We have injustice written into our tax code, we have favored the rich for long enough, and we must find a way to bring about a system that does not put unnecessary pressure on the middle and lower classes. Pretending that we do not have a rigid class structure in this system ignores reality. Pretending that everyone can move up the scale just by force of will helps no one. It is time to look at the real difficulties facing our nation, to address the reality as it presents itself, and find balance in an unbalanced, deeply confusing, rich-favoring tax system.
- And fnially, to the goalie of the Boston Bruins. I do no mind that you snubbed me by choosing not to attend the White House with the rest of your teammates. Among the best characteristics about our country is that you can express your values without reprieve, without condemnation. Unfortunately for you, no one else cares either, because you are a hockey player. Your cultural relevance is just below professional bloggers. (also, your phones have been wired).
A major media outlet finds it necessary to write this sentence:
Obama is a Christian, but hasn’t been able to persuade many Republicans that he is, despite going to church and praising Jesus Christ publicly.
Help me understand how this is possible? We have a Christian president, who displayed during the 2008 election that he was very much at home talking about Jesus Christ and his personal faith. But our country chooses not to believe him. Why?
I’m told that it’s not racism, and I don’t want it to be racism. I don’t want it to be xenophobia, or religious intolerance, or any such nonsense. But 18% of Republicans is a lot of people. Those kind of numbers are not easily cast aside as some kind of fringe nonsense. That’s millions of people disregarding reality to support a fantasy based on…what?
And yes, Rick Santorum, it is your responsibility to correct your supporters who are telling lies.
Earlier today, I put 5 seconds into a campaign ad for the Newt Gingrich campaign. I tried to be sly about mocking the foundational claim of Newt’s run: that he has reformed.
But what I was getting at was done better and bolder by Rod Dreher at the American Conservative. It’s the same concept, titled Gingrich Family Values.
In the wake of the SC Primary, where Newt Gingrich defeated Mitt Romney by about 12 percentage points, TRC has been considering just how strange the campaigns of these two men really are. I mean really, if you think about the campaign of Newt Gingrich for President, or the campaign of Mitt Romney for President, they are very odd.
To wit: if TRC ran these campaigns, I would boil them down to a slogan and an image. Choose wisely, Republicans.
Newt Gingrich 2012.
Mitt Romney 2012.
What a weekend for news, right folks?
Newt Gingrich destroyed and annihilated and embarrassed, etc., Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Primary. Which, if you are a liberal hoping to see President Obama reelected, that is only good news. Though it really makes me wonder what the hell is going on in the Republican Party. According to the NY Times, the result totally changes everything (EVERYTHING) about the race, but Romney still is the frontrunner to win the nomination. So I guess it changed nothing.
Elsewhere, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords told the nation that she will not be seeking reelection. Good luck to you Ms. Giffords. You are an inspiration.
But I have one bone to pick this weekend in the media. It was from our local Star Tribune, who ran a story about the future of Amy Koch, Minnesota’s former Senate Majority leader who resigned that position after her illicit affair with a staffer came to light. Koch’s problems are only a small helping of the shit-storm facing the Minnesota GOP (for example), but her affair is her problem, and what happens as a result is her fault.
So I was very disappointed in the Star Tribune’s front page headline: Sen. Amy Koch: Back up after ‘punch to the face’.
What the hell, Star Tribune? No one punched Amy Koch in the face. And if she wants to consider the fallout from her own bad choices a “punch in the face,” then call her on it. Say, I’m sorry Amy Koch, no one punched you in the face. Or, if you you were, you punched yourself in the face. So stopping hitting yourself.
I’m not quite sure why this got me. But it really annoyed me.
I’ve been struggling personally with the demonization of the food-stamp program (SNAP) in the US. People I know and love have survived because of the SNAP program. That the US government has such a program is a good, not an evil. It’s frustrating. But even more so is the racism that has surrounded these condemnations.
That Newt Gingrich can call President Obama a “food-stamp president” and pretend that it is not a racially charged statement highlights his capacity for self-delusion. There are 10,000 names that Newt Gingrich could have used to criticize Barack Obama’s presidency, and that he choose the phrase he did is not accidental. It is dangerous language. Ta-Nehisi Coates highlights its danger, in a reminder that real racists do real things.
When a professor of history calls Barack Obama a “Food Stamp President,” it isn’t a mistake to be remedied through clarification; it is a statement of aggresion. And when a crowd of his admirers cheer him on, they are neither deluded, nor in need of forgiveness, nor absolution, nor acting against their interest. Racism is their interest. They are not your misguided friends. They are your fully intelligent adversaries, sporting the broad range of virtue and vice we see in humankind. If you are a praying person, you should pray for their electoral destruction in November.
I would like to ask Newt Gingrich why this campaign ad is titled The Moment. What moment is he hoping to pinpoint in this clip? I would like to hear him complete this sentence: This is the moment I _____________.
Robert Samuelson can’t see the forest because he’s only looking at the oil (that was a boreal forest/tar sand joke). In an op-ed at the Washington Post, Samuelson has decided that Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL is insane. Actually, that it was an act of “national insanity.” His arguments are unconvincing, or at least unoriginal, but worth spending a second or two on. Here are the four key arguments:
1. “Getting future Canadian cooperation on other issues will be harder.” Seriously? You think Canada is suddenly going to spur its allied relationship with the US? Somehow, I doubt that.
2. “It threatens a large source of relatively secure oil.” How? You just said that this oil will be developed, so, not really.
3. “Combined with new discoveries in the United States, [this oil] could reduce (though not eliminate) our dependence on insecure foreign oil.” Probably not. Anytime there is an oil-based argument for reducing our dependency on foreign oil, it’s not going to happen. History is very clear on this. The only solution to reducing foreign oil consumption is reducing oil consumption.
4. “Obama’s decision forgoes all the project’s jobs.” I guess I can’t argue with this. But can continue to ask, at what cost are we willing to take jobs? That’s not a decision, but it’s an important question.
These, though are the small potatoes in comparison to the dangerous defense of Keystone XL that Robert Samuelson makes. The above arguments are just the easy Republican talking points that flutter in the breeze of political rhetoric. Here is the real danger in arguing for Keystone XL:
First, we’re going to use lots of oil for a long time. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that U.S. oil consumption will increase 4 percent between 2009 and 2035. The increase occurs despite highly optimistic assumptions about vehicle fuel efficiency and bio-fuels. But a larger population (390 million in 2035 versus 308 million in 2009) and more driving per vehicle offset savings….Second, barring major technological breakthroughs, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, will rise for similar reasons. The EIA projects that America’s CO2 emissions will increase by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035. (The EIA is updating its projections, but the main trends aren’t likely to change dramatically.) Stopping Canadian tar-sands development, were that possible, wouldn’t affect these emissions.
This argument is numbers based, and sounds reliable and hard to dispute. But don’t be fooled, this is scary business. It acknowledges that there is a reason to worry about greenhouse gas emissions, but disregards that worry because it is all inevitable. Variations of this argument are everywhere, and they cast aside climate change with a simple brush of the hand. It says, simply, “you cannot do anything about emissions, so do not try; instead, since we are already knee-deep in the muck, why not sink up to the neck.”
And such carelessness needs to be identified. Especially when, on the same day, the scientists are telling us how bad it is.