Saturday, October 27, 2012

Music Break: The Fever Pistol!


New York Times Endorses President Obama


Barack Obama for Re-Election

The economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown, and the country could suffer another recession if the wrong policies take hold. The United States is embroiled in unstable regions that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the right has started to undermine the vital health reform law passed in 2010. Those forces are eroding women’s access to health care, and their right to control their lives. Nearly 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, all Americans’ rights are cheapened by the right wing’s determination to deny marriage benefits to a selected group of us. Astonishingly, even the very right to vote is being challenged.

That is the context for the Nov. 6 election, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear.

President Obama has shown a firm commitment to using government to help foster growth. He has formed sensible budget policies that are not dedicated to protecting the powerful, and has worked to save the social safety net to protect the powerless. Mr. Obama has impressive achievements despite the implacable wall of refusal erected by Congressional Republicans so intent on stopping him that they risked pushing the nation into depression, held its credit rating hostage, and hobbled economic recovery.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has gotten this far with a guile that allows him to say whatever he thinks an audience wants to hear. But he has tied himself to the ultraconservative forces that control the Republican Party and embraced their policies, including reckless budget cuts and 30-year-old, discredited trickle-down ideas. Voters may still be confused about Mr. Romney’s true identity, but they know the Republican Party, and a Romney administration would reflect its agenda. Mr. Romney’s choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate says volumes about that.

We have criticized individual policy choices that Mr. Obama has made over the last four years, and have been impatient with his unwillingness to throw himself into the political fight. But he has shaken off the hesitancy that cost him the first debate, and he approaches the election clearly ready for the partisan battles that would follow his victory.

We are confident he would challenge the Republicans in the “fiscal cliff” battle even if it meant calling their bluff, letting the Bush tax cuts expire and forcing them to confront the budget sequester they created. Electing Mr. Romney would eliminate any hope of deficit reduction that included increased revenues.

In the poisonous atmosphere of this campaign, it may be easy to overlook Mr. Obama’s many important achievements, including carrying out the economic stimulus, saving the auto industry, improving fuel efficiency standards, and making two very fine Supreme Court appointments.

Health Care

Mr. Obama has achieved the most sweeping health care reforms since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The reform law takes a big step toward universal health coverage, a final piece in the social contract.

It was astonishing that Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress were able to get a bill past the Republican opposition. But the Republicans’ propagandistic distortions of the new law helped them wrest back control of the House, and they are determined now to repeal the law.

That would eliminate the many benefits the reform has already brought: allowing children under 26 to stay on their parents’ policies; lower drug costs for people on Medicare who are heavy users of prescription drugs; free immunizations, mammograms and contraceptives; a ban on lifetime limits on insurance payments. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Starting in 2014, insurers must accept all applicants. Once fully in effect, the new law would start to control health care costs.

Mr. Romney has no plan for covering the uninsured beyond his callous assumption that they will use emergency rooms. He wants to use voucher programs to shift more Medicare costs to beneficiaries and block grants to shift more Medicaid costs to the states.

The Economy

Mr. Obama prevented another Great Depression. The economy was cratering when he took office in January 2009. By that June it was growing, and it has been ever since (although at a rate that disappoints everyone), thanks in large part to interventions Mr. Obama championed, like the $840 billion stimulus bill. Republicans say it failed, but it created and preserved 2.5 million jobs and prevented unemployment from reaching 12 percent. Poverty would have been much worse without the billions spent on Medicaid, food stamps and jobless benefits.

Last year, Mr. Obama introduced a jobs plan that included spending on school renovations, repair projects for roads and bridges, aid to states, and more. It was stymied by Republicans. Contrary to Mr. Romney’s claims, Mr. Obama has done good things for small businesses — like pushing through more tax write-offs for new equipment and temporary tax cuts for hiring the unemployed.

The Dodd-Frank financial regulation was an important milestone. It is still a work in progress, but it established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, initiated reform of the derivatives market, and imposed higher capital requirements for banks. Mr. Romney wants to repeal it.

If re-elected, Mr. Obama would be in position to shape the “grand bargain” that could finally combine stimulus like the jobs bill with long-term deficit reduction that includes letting the high-end Bush-era tax cuts expire. Stimulus should come first, and deficit reduction as the economy strengthens. Mr. Obama has not been as aggressive as we would have liked in addressing the housing crisis, but he has increased efforts in refinancing and loan modifications.

Mr. Romney’s economic plan, as much as we know about it, is regressive, relying on big tax cuts and deregulation. That kind of plan was not the answer after the financial crisis, and it will not create broad prosperity.

Foreign Affairs

Mr. Obama and his administration have been resolute in attacking Al Qaeda’s leadership, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. He has ended the war in Iraq. Mr. Romney, however, has said he would have insisted on leaving thousands of American soldiers there. He has surrounded himself with Bush administration neocons who helped to engineer the Iraq war, and adopted their militaristic talk in a way that makes a Romney administration’s foreign policies a frightening prospect.

Mr. Obama negotiated a much tougher regime of multilateral economic sanctions on Iran. Mr. Romney likes to say the president was ineffective on Iran, but at the final debate he agreed with Mr. Obama’s policies. Mr. Obama deserves credit for his handling of the Arab Spring. The killing goes on in Syria, but the administration is working to identify and support moderate insurgent forces there. At the last debate, Mr. Romney talked about funneling arms through Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are funneling arms to jihadist groups.

Mr. Obama gathered international backing for airstrikes during the Libyan uprising, and kept American military forces in a background role. It was smart policy.

In the broadest terms, he introduced a measure of military restraint after the Bush years and helped repair America’s badly damaged reputation in many countries from the low levels to which it had sunk by 2008.

The Supreme Court

The future of the nation’s highest court hangs in the balance in this election — and along with it, reproductive freedom for American women and voting rights for all, to name just two issues. Whoever is president after the election will make at least one appointment to the court, and many more to federal appeals courts and district courts.

Mr. Obama, who appointed the impressive Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, understands how severely damaging conservative activism has been in areas like campaign spending. He would appoint justices and judges who understand that landmarks of equality like the Voting Rights Act must be defended against the steady attack from the right.

Mr. Romney’s campaign Web site says he will “nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito,” among the most conservative justices in the past 75 years. There is no doubt that he would appoint justices who would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Civil Rights

The extraordinary fact of Mr. Obama’s 2008 election did not usher in a new post-racial era. In fact, the steady undercurrent of racism in national politics is truly disturbing. Mr. Obama, however, has reversed Bush administration policies that chipped away at minorities’ voting rights and has fought laws, like the ones in Arizona, that seek to turn undocumented immigrants into a class of criminals.

The military’s odious “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule was finally legislated out of existence, under the Obama administration’s leadership. There are still big hurdles to equality to be brought down, including the Defense of Marriage Act, the outrageous federal law that undermines the rights of gay men and lesbians, even in states that recognize those rights.

Though it took Mr. Obama some time to do it, he overcame his hesitation about same-sex marriage and declared his support. That support has helped spur marriage-equality movements around the country. His Justice Department has also stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act against constitutional challenges.

Mr. Romney opposes same-sex marriage and supports the federal act, which not only denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples but allows states to ignore marriages made in other states. His campaign declared that Mr. Romney would not object if states also banned adoption by same-sex couples and restricted their rights to hospital visitation and other privileges.

Mr. Romney has been careful to avoid the efforts of some Republicans to criminalize abortion even in the case of women who had been raped, including by family members. He says he is not opposed to contraception, but he has promised to deny federal money to Planned Parenthood, on which millions of women depend for family planning.

For these and many other reasons, we enthusiastically endorse President Barack Obama for a second term, and express the hope that his victory will be accompanied by a new Congress willing to work for policies that Americans need.

Coolest Obama Ad Has Wingnuts Going APE; But Reagan Would Approve ...



Friday, October 26, 2012

Cake Is Baked: Powell Endorses, Polling Super Geek Says Romney Stalls, Wingnuts Stroke Out

IT'S ONE OF CHUCKLES TODDY'S FAVORITE PHRASES: "The cake is baked." This goose is cooked; the fat lady's sung; etc. When Queen Ann, who hasn't baked a thing in 40 years, burned her Romney clan brownies on national TV, it must've been an omen from the planet Kolob. Colin Powell followed President Clinton in making the best case for the President's re-election, period. His credentials as a largely extinct Republican moderate, Chairman of the JCS under Bush I and Secretary of State under Bush II, carry weight with so-called independent-leaning Republicans.

The polls trumpeted by the MSM Media obsessed with the horse race to hike advertising revenues are not to be believed, except for one constant: President Obama maintains his lead in the battleground states. One such unbelievable polling tidbit heard on the "news" with no explanation had Romney erasing the President's lead among women (yeah, right ... 20 pts. off) but the President drawing even with men. The latter I'm inclined to believe: In the last two debates the President showed up as the Alpha male. Guys watching them like a boxing match saw macho man Obama landing blow after blow on a hapless Romney, who skittered about with that wimpy, unmanly magic underwear strut, then basically endorsed Obama. What was it Teddy Kennedy said before smashing the RomBot, mocking his flip-flops: "At this rate, he'll end up voting for me!" So if you're a guy watching the last contest and see Romney praising Obama for "killing the bad guys" what are you going to do: Vote for the prissy-stepping wimp with the used car salesman's motor mouth? I don't think so. You vote for the dude with the piercing, contemptuous of Romney, eagle eyes, who "killed" our enemies.

Piling on, the king of polling analysis, New York Times' Super Geek Nate Silver threw cold water on the Romney bluster faux "Mitt-momentum" with his own expert edict: No-mentum. Isn't it pathetic to see Romney running away from questions about that crazy teabagger from Indiana, Richard Mourdock, God's avenging angel proclaiming his deity commands rape victims to carry a rape fetus to term. Romney is running away from questions and sit-down interviews period, running the mother of all stealth campaigns, hiding behind the filth of his carpet-bombing SuperPacs. His rejoinder to the rape questions is the President is campaigning on "small things" which explains why his campaign has refused to take down Romney's ad endorsing Mourdock. Pathetic. The "White Horse" believes a higher power — Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, et al — will propel him on the wings of Kolobian angels to the White House, no matter what happens on the ground. Mitt is another one who thinks he knows God's intention for him, a sociopathic religious fanatic given a free ride by media malpractice.

How long did the so-called "moderate Mitt" last? About two days, despite the fact clueless talking heads have yet to get the memo. Let's see: Romney's toothless attack dog, John Sununu the 'Lebanese Brain Fart', dismissed Powell's endorsement "because he's black." Add another notch to Sununu's 'respectful' campaign attacks, having called the President 'un-American', 'lazy' and 'stupid'. Wingnut Ann Coulter called the President 'a retard'. Village Idiot Sarah Palin piled on the racist base-sucking 'shuck & jive'; she's still clueless. These are but a few examples of the wingnut hive, frantically mobilized against President Obama. Typically for a hive, they are incapable of independent thought, so they receive their marching orders in bullet-point e-mails from wingnut internet and radio outlets, and are paid $20 bucks or more to call progressive radio programs posing as regular folks, to parrot the daily talking points.

Having knocked some three million voters off the rolls with their despicable 21st century Jim Crow voter suppression measures, their game plan is to mobilize the raw meat-eating racist basest of their base to go to the polls and vote for the tabula rasa tiptoe-thru-the-tulips wimp. Meanwhile, the President broadens his appeal to the last of the non-political, ignorant but persuadable voters. The only way Republicans win this election is by stealing it. In Ohio and Florida.

Memo To The DNC And The Chicago Team: Better be ready (and I mean, PREPARED!) to counter Republican dirty tricks and outright electoral theft come election day. So don't get complacent, Obama supporters: Get out there EN MASSE, AND VOTE!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Exactly Two Weeks To Go, Prez Releases His "Plan"

AS ASTUTE POLITICAL OBSERVERS KNOW, the President has been talking about his plans for the future — in a serious way — for the better part of a year. Unfortunately, he has to contend, on the one hand, with the daunting stupidity of a segment of the electorate (the so-called "low-information voter") which remains undecided but will decide the election, and on the other hand, the Idiot Punditocracy elites who insist on the "vision thing." The MSM/Beltway Media with a few notable exceptions have studiously avoided the main issue, which is Mitt Romney's mental health and character — as if being a serial, souless liar is an acceptable condition for someone running to be the world's most powerful leader.

So here is the President's closing argument. Unlike Romney's "five-point plan," which was mocked by the President, and reminds me of those old Soviet central planning five-year plans, President Obama distills his own "plan" for investments in education, manufacturing, energy, nation-building, coupled with ending the war in Afghanistan and nation-building at home into a simple, concise message intended to reassure the confederacy of idiots who will decide the election, and the pretenders who report on it:

Monday, October 22, 2012


PRICELESS! PRESIDENT OBAMA BITCH-SLAPPED A SWEAT-SOAKED MITT ROMNEY, who CLINCHED repeatedly (great analogy, Rev!), dodging and weaving frantically, but still unable to avoid the President's devastating right hook, kept in abeyance for just the right moment — as Romney walked right into it with his weird notion about two trillion more in defense spending and the relative size of our Navy post-1917. Here's the President:

"I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.

And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships. It’s — it’s what are our capabilities."

BUT WAIT ... THERE'S MORE! Here's the PREZ:  "Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s."


A Simple Word of Advice For The President Re: Tonight's Foreign Policy Debate

Fifteen of twenty-two Romney foreign policy advisors are George W. Bush retreads. President Obama should drive that point home by telling Americans, "if you liked George W. Bush's foreign policy, you're gonna LOVE Mitt Romney's." That's something Americans can understand on a visceral level.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern, Great Liberal And Prairie Populist, Has Died

At a time of great turmoil in our land, after successive assassinations had shaken us to our core, as the Vietnam war raged on with no end in sight, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota picked up the tattered liberal banner of Gene McCarthy and RFK and rallied the cause for the good fight. His primary victory over Establishment Democrats such as Ed Muskie and Hubert Humphrey was textbook grassroots political insurgency, when there was no internet or social media. To this day the Democratic Party’s unparalleled “ground game” remains a lasting legacy of McGovern’s quixotic and idealistic campaign.

Scenes From A Life Well-Lived In The Service of America And Mankind

McGovern was often criticized for driving the Democratic Party to the left and into “the wilderness” as smug denizens of the Beltway and Establishment Democrats would suggest, but it was largely sour grapes. In a “brief, shining moment,” when the Party was adrift and leaderless, McGovern returned it to its liberal roots and principles, asserting, even among the chaos of his democracy-in-action constituencies and issues-oriented campaign, the revitalization of New Deal liberalism with the social causes of the day: civil rights, gay rights, women’s reproductive rights, strong environmentalism, and a foreign policy which de-emphasized American interventionism and war.

What If McGovern’s Campaign Hadn’t Happened?

It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but it bears considering that all America’s wars post-Vietnam — not humanitarian interventions, such as the NATO action in Kosovo — were started by Republican administrations. Still, one Vietnam-era result of our increasingly technological warfare is the American public’s intolerance for high casualties such as the unimaginable 55,000 troops that died in Vietnam. And yet, the mainstreaming of once considered marginal social issues, which coalesced around McGovern’s campaign, have led to great progress. Would DADT have happened without McGovern? Or the almost complete public acceptance of marriage equality rights by the children of McGovern’s young crusaders and the generation which first took to the streets to fight for their rights? It’s impossible to say; as one of those vexing “what if” historical questions that will keep us up at night. But for me, I believe George McGovern came along at a moment in history to give voice to the voiceless and to those traumatized by the slaying of their champion, Bobby Kennedy. And he made a difference.
 An Opportunity Lost

Those who blame McGovern for hastening the rise of the right in America, the counter-revolution ushered in by the election of Ronald Reagan, are victims of  short-sighted hubris. Their premise is based on the iffy proposition that Richard Nixon could have been defeated by so-called “centrist” Establishment Democrats — Hubert Humphrey or Ed Muskie. (Ironically, by today’s standards Humphrey and Muskie would be considered flaming liberals.) But they never quite reconciled themselves to the fact that McGovern beat his Establishment opponents fair and square, and in the process exposed their flaws and weaknesses as candidates. Candidly, Humphrey was more than a decade past his prime, and Muskie self-destructed all on his own. When Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968 the country was already veering right, and no candidate the Democrats could throw at him in 1972 stood a good chance of beating him. Moreover, Nixon’s demise amid the scandal and coverup of Watergate handed the Democrats, behind Jimmy Carter, a golden opportunity to reverse the rise of the right, nip it in the bud with the wave Democratic Congressional elections, before the right had jumped onto the Reagan bandwagon.

McGovern’s Magnificent Defeat

Even in his magnificent defeat to Nixon, losing every state except Massachusetts, George McGovern laid the groundwork for a reformist Democratic Party, impelled by the over-reach and excesses of Watergate, to reboot and reset its true North course. Jimmy Carter was himself a beneficiary of the primary electoral reforms which did away, at least in that earlier incarnation, with the influence of party bosses and the infamous “smoke-filled rooms.” George McGovern was blameless. In fact, his standing as a man of honesty and principle grew with the American people as the polls have shown.

Some would argue that the Watergate revelations, which eventually led to Nixon’s downfall, were the high-water mark of American journalism. Surveying the decrepit state of the media landscape today, it is hard to make the counter-argument, although there are hopeful offshoots of nontraditional media springing up from the internet, the blogosphere, and social media. In one of those strange twists of fate, George McGovern figures as a major protagonist in a scene from Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail by the one and only “Gonzo” journalist, creator of the much-copied but never mastered genre, and McGovern admirer, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. His book, derived from a series of articles for Rolling Stone magazine, is the single finest account of the 1972 campaign. It was named by New York University’s School of Journalism as one of the “Top 100 Works of Journalism In the United States in the 20th Century.”

The Original Urinal Scene

It may surprise those who are familiar with that noxious example of pulp political gossip journalism known as Game Change, that its notorious urinal scene was, memorably, first written by Hunter Thompson. The contemporary Memorex copy, recounted on more than one occasion by Rachel Maddow, places the Republican presidential candidates in a line at the urinals taking a piss during a pre-debate bathroom break, laughing and mocking Mitt Romney, as Romney stood unseen behind them. Or so the story goes. It so delighted the producers of the loosely-based HBO film version that the Steve Schmidt character is pictured taking a piss while answering reporters’ questions over his shoulder. What could be more real-scatalogique and at the same time acceptable in Beltway society? Here is the genuine and original bathroom urinal scene, written in the first person by Dr. Thompson:
“I found George (McGovern) downstairs in the men's room, hovering into a urinal and staring straight ahead at the gray marble tiles. “Say... ah ... I hate to mention this,” I said. “But what about this thing with Hughes?" He flinched and quickly zipped his pants up, shaking his head and mumbling something about "a deal for the Vice Presidency.”
McGovern was shaken by the news that his erstwhile ally, Iowa Senator Harold Hughes had endorsed Ed Muskie, and Thompson conveyed that moment more vividly than anyone else, in a chance encounter with the candidate, when he was most exposed in the men’s room of a hotel in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Hunter Thompson And George McGovern

I do not believe in fantastical synchronicities spanning thirty years of political reporting, more than a generation removed, when memory or knowledge of Hunter’s work may have faded. I do not believe the Game Change scene happened as described. At best it is a composite by “authors” who were not there; at worst, the imaginings of a Thompson wannabe, who appropriated not only his “National Affairs” editor title at Rolling Stone, but also riffed on Hunter’s signature line “fear and loathing” for an article and book chapter title, and used the Beltway’s unimaginative cliché “Agonistes” as in “Obama Agonistes” ripped off from the title of the great historian Garry Will’s, Nixon Agonistes.

A line of acknowledgment to Thompson in the book would have sufficed. Yet Hunter himself captured the essence of this new breed of faux “journalist” peddling their garbage in the stultifying and incestuous Beltway milieu, which is not a geographic location as much as a state of being:
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
In chronicling George McGovern’s doomed but splendid campaign, Thompson offered a prophetic distillation of the perilous crossroads at which we had arrived as a nation at that moment in history. It is as terrifyingly true today as it was then, for it could set our course — a staggering, unending nightmare for this country — for the next thirty years:
“If the current polls are reliable... Nixon will be re-elected by a huge majority of Americans who feel he is not only more honest and more trustworthy than George McGovern, but also more likely to end the war in Vietnam. The polls also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states... This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes... understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose... Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
A Record of Heroism In War

Even though urged by his aides, George McGovern never talked up his military service in WW II. Unlike today’s panoply of  odious Republican chicken hawks, from George W. Bush who “served” stateside in the “champagne National Guard” to Dick Cheney who took multiple deferments while sending thousands of our young men and women to be killed and maimed in their wars of choice, to the repulsive Romney clan of  rich privileged men who avoided service in the military like the plague — Mitt Romney was living in a castle in France while John Kerry and John McCain served in Vietnam — George McGovern was a Liberator bomber pilot who, at age 23, flew some 35 missions over Nazi Germany. He once described flying the Liberator as driving a Mack truck without brakes or power steering. When his plane was hit by flak he skillfully crash landed it on a dime, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was rescued by Yugoslav partisans. And yet we are perpetually bombarded by propaganda from slack-jawed punks like Karl Rove that Democrats are “soft” on defense. I would argue that it is precisely because Democrats know, and have historically known war and its consequences, that they do not engage in the militaristic jingoism and warmongering rhetoric of MIA Republicans like Mitt Romney, who has no earthly idea what George McGovern knew from experience and is, therefore, so terribly dangerous to our country.

A Return To Original Principles And Values

In his final book, “What It Means to Be a Democrat,” released last November, George McGovern wrote:
“We are the party that believes we can’t let the strong kick aside the weak. Our party believes that poor children should be as well educated as those from wealthy families. We believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes and that everyone should have access to health care.” Given our current economic burdens, he said, there has “never been a more critical time in our nation’s history” to rely on those principles. “We are at a crossroads over how the federal government in Washington and state legislatures and city councils across the land allocate their financial resources. Which fork we take will say a lot about Americans and our values.”
George McGovern’s 1972 campaign produced the most beautiful political buttons of any modern presidential campaign including, notably, the first environmental pins and one very valuable pin that is said to have been designed by famous graphic artist Peter Max. (See illustrations, below.)

 But most poignantly, perhaps, it conceived one of the best presidential campaign slogans in history: Come Home, America. For millions of us who love this country and agonize over what it is becoming, this is as fitting today as it was then. Come home, America, to those principles to which George McGovern dedicated his life with honor, grace, and love. Come home, America.

Rest in peace, George.