Saturday, January 28, 2012

Behind the Ad: Gingrich assails Romney's character

By Richard K. Barry

Who: Newt Gingrich attacks Mitt Romney

Where: Florida

What's going on: There have been so many twists and turns to the GOP presidential nomination process that I'm not quite ready to say it's over. Polls in Florida are still settling and I suppose it's still possible Gingrich could pull it out and keep this thing going for a while longer. He certainly seems to be thinking that way, based on his most recent ad airing in Florida.

The money line is this: "What kind of man would mislead, distort and deceive just to win an election. This man would: Mitt Romney."

It begins with this comment by Governor Mike Huckabee: "If a man's dishonest to get a job, he'll be dishonest on the job."

Wow. Not that it hasn't been personal before this, but now it's really getting personal. I still think Romney wins the nomination, but attack ads like this that impugn Romney's reputation as a true conservative are going to have an impact once Romney finally emerges as the candidate.

In part this is the stuff professionals like to call voter suppression. In other words, even if Romney wins the nomination, the feeling that he can't be trusted may well make it less likely that Tea Party or other hard-core right wingers will bother to come out and vote for him. They won't vote for Obama, of course, they just won't vote.

It's pretty effective stuff.

And, among swing voter, repeating over and over that Romney will say whatever it takes to get elected is not going to make him an attractive candidate. As I've said many times, I just think Mitt Romney is a lousy politician, that he doesn't understand how it's done, doesn't understand that voters need to trust the person they vote for, need to believe that the candidate stands for something.

This ad feeds into the feeling growing numbers of people have that Romney is a fraud, that the only thing he stands for is winning because rich privileged people like him, he'd like us to believe, ought to be running the country anyway. Everything else for a guy like Mitt is background noise.

Newt Gingrich doesn't care about the success of the Republican Party. This is scorched earth politics at its best and, as a Democrat, I love it. More of this please.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Friday, January 27, 2012

This day in music - January 27, 1970: The Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" hits #1

The Partridge Family
When I decided to have some fun with this feature, I told myself I wouldn't impose my own opinions about what was good music and what was "less good." For all sorts of reasons, different artists and songs mean things to other people beyond the understanding of some of the rest of us. Clearly the fact that The Partridge Family had a #1 hit with "I Think I Love You" means that a lot of people went out and bought the record. I can respect that.

The Partridge Family was a television sitcom that aired between 1970 and 1974 on ABC and has lived on in syndication for a long time after that. The basic idea for the show was that a widowed mother and her five children would embark on a music career. This allowed for normal family-type hijinx, with a couple of pretty teenagers (David Cassidy and Susan Dey) in the cast to occupy the hormones of any peers who might be watching.

And then there was the obligatory song in each episode always somehow woven into the plot. As for the music, only David Cassidy, who sang lead, and Shirley Jones (the mother), who sang backup, were featured on the recordings.

One of the more obscure pieces of information about the song "I Think I Love You" is that it made The Partridge Family the third fictional group to have a #1 hit (after The Chipmunks and The Archies). To give the man his due, "I Think I Love You" was written by veteran American songwriter Tony Romeo, who also wrote for a lot of other people.

I remember watching The Partridge Family as a kid. It seemed to pass the time as well as anything else. I doubt the show ever did anyone any real harm, and as pop music goes, it wasn't the worst.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Eva Longoria slams Romney over DREAM Act

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter: 

85% of Latino Voters support the #DREAM Act, 100% of @MittRomney, doesn’t!

-- Eva Longoria (@evalongoria)

Yes, that Eva Longoria. The extraordinarily beautiful Eva Longoria.

Very well put. (More here.)

Just because Mitt can name some Latino Republicans (and suck up to Rubio in particular) and pander to militant Cubans doesn't make him a friend to Latinos.

And his shameless pandering to the far-right GOP base, including on immigration, just makes him look like a bigoted nativist.


I generally don't pay much attention to the political views of celebrities, but, to her credit, Longoria is pro-Obama and anti-Tea Party, and generally seems to be a very thoughtful person.

[President Obama] keeps getting beat up lately because there's such an extremist movement, and for me, it's very dangerous because its not the character of America," Longoria continued. And though she didn't specify that the movement beating up Obama she was referring to was the Tea Party, she later scoffed when Kimmel mentioned them, saying they were "good for comedy."


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The horrendous human costs of your beloved gadgets

So you like your iPhone, do you? And your iPad? And maybe you're even one of those Apple cultists. (I'm not, but I do love my iPod Touch. I go Samsung/Android with my phone.)

Maybe you love all your gadgets. Maybe you think technology has made your life so much better, so much more fun. Hey, I hear you.

But there's a cost to be paid, and not just whatever low, low, ridiculously low price lured you into your local Best Buy. No, there's a human cost. Actually, many human costs. And it's important that you (and I) know about it (and make decisions accordingly):

In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.

However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple's products, and the company's suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.

More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers' disregard for workers' health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning

And then there's that whole suicide problem. (Yes, a very serious problem. In addition to the suicides themselves, workers at Foxconn, a manufacturer for Apple and others, have threatened mass suicide to protest the horrible working conditions.)

Now, sure, it's easy to pick on Apple and it's huge profits and cash, but it's hardly alone in this. Pretty much every major (and not-so-major) consumer electronics company is implicated.

Will this stop me, or you, or most anyone else from lapping up the latest wonder-gizmo? Maybe not, but, then, what are we to do? Not have these gadgets at all? Please. We need our superphones and tablets and laptops and PCs. I'm on them all the time at home, at work, pretty much everywhere.

But maybe we should at least think twice (or more) about what we're doing, and maybe, if Apple (to take but the most obvious example) is one of the most egregious players in this horrific system, it should pay -- and pay by losing customers, by having customers demand better of it. And perhaps, too, our attention and habits, should we change them in a meaningful way, and the attention this human toll is getting, will turn this into a political issue with governments demanding, and requiring, meaningful change.

Maybe I'm hoping for too much. Actually, I'm sure I am. And I know I'm a hypocrite. Most of us are. But I do know I look at Apple quite a bit differently now, and if making a choice means choosing the less bad of some generally bad options, well, that's something, at least.

Food for thought next time you're playing Angry Birds.

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My one and only post about Fred Karger

Who's Fred Karger, you ask? Why he's a political consultant and gay rights activist running for the Republican -- yes, the Republican -- nomination for president. Suffice to say that he's not doing all that well. But he is on the ballot in Michigan!

I've been on his mailing list throughout the campaign. I didn't sign up, I didn't ask for it, but there I am. And I'm fine with it. He seems like a decent guy and if his campaign wants to send me an e-mail now and then, so be it. I can pay attention or not. Usually not.

But yesterday... well, yesterday came one of the best moments of the whole campaign so far. Yes, courtesy of Fred Karger.

He announced yesterday in an e-mail blast that he has released his tax returns from 2000 to 2010, obviously a swipe at Romney. But that wasn't all. Do you know where he actually made the announcement? No, probably not...

At the George Romney Institute for Law and Public Policy at Adrian College in Michigan.

Yes, that George Romney. The dad.

"George Romney did the right thing 44 years ago when he released 12 years of his federal tax returns," said Fred. "He was the first presidential candidate to do so when he ran for president in 1968. At the time he said he released so many years of tax documents because one year was not enough. I just followed his lead."

If only his son were so, er, honorable (and less of a privileged rich douchebag with a massively plutocratic sense of entitlement).

Well done, Mr. Karger. And well played.


Photo above, with more on Karger, here. He may not be what Republicans are looking for, not even close (you know, being gay and all), but he's certainly a partisan:

There is no doubting Karger's Republican credentials. He has spent his life working for the party's cause as a top strategist. Like Karl Rove, he was a disciple of the controversial Republican tactician Lee Atwater. Indeed, Karger played a key role in publicising the "Willie Horton" adverts that destroyed the Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Yeah, that's some serious GOP cred.

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The Republican Party vs. Newt Gingrich

I wrote last night that Newt is probably done. He's still ahead nationally, but Romney has pulled well ahead in Florida and simply has too much of an advantage for Gingrich to overcome.
I would add that this is especially true with both establishment and movement conservatives, seeing him as a legit threat and entering full panic mode, going ballistic on his ass, from Dole to Drudge to Coulter, predicting disaster (for the GOP) if he's the nominee. Newt may still have some big names on his side, including Dear Leader Rush (who hasn't endorsed him but who despises Romney), but the full force of the Republican Party is coming down on him, and there's no way the party allows him to win. It'll do whatever it takes, and spend as much money as it takes, to make sure of it.

So much for that moon base. Alas.

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Behind the Ad: Gingrich super PAC attacks Romney on health care

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: Winning Our Future, Newt Gingrich's Super PAC, has said it will spend $6 million on ads to draw attention to Mitt Romney's health care law in Massachusetts. (Gingrich attacks Romney.)

Where: Florida, prior to next week's primary

What's going on: Despite the fact that Romney seems most vulnerable on the issue of his wealth and record at Bain Capital, the whole RomneyCare thing has hardly gone away. Gingrich is at least smart enough to know that seeing how it plays on top of everything else may not be a bad strategy.

The ad, no surprise, depicts Romney as a Massachusetts moderate in lockstep with President Obama, which will surely be red meat for Gingrich's growing base of Tea Party support. 

As we know, Romney did a pretty effective number on Gingrich in Iowa with his Super PAC money, so it seems obvious that Newt will push back with whatever he can find in Florida and beyond, now that he has another $5 million from his casino mogul friend Sheldon Adelson to play with.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Voting rights

By Mustang Bobby.

New Jersey's legislature is on the verge of voting on marriage equality, and Gov. Chris Christie (R) is threatening to veto the law should it pass.  His stand is that it should be voted on by referendum, not "121 people in Trenton."

That's a weaselly way of getting out of it the discussion.  He's doing it so he doesn't have to take a stand and come across as a homophobic right-winger; hey, it's not the law, it's the process.  That's a typical chickenshit way out for a politician.  So far so good.  But then he goes and steps on the rake.

...he said, there's nothing "so special about this particular issue that it must be handled by a legislature."

"The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South," he said.

That didn't go over too well with some of the people who remember all too well what it was like to fight for civil rights.

The comment outraged many African-American leaders in the state, who pointed out that such a referendum never would have passed in the south during the 60s — and that many black people were also disenfranchised at the time.

“People were fighting and dying in the streets of the South for a reason,” Oliver said. “They were fighting and dying in the streets of the South because the majority refused to grant minorities equal rights by any method. It look legislative action to bring justice to all Americans, just as legislative action is the right way to bring marriage equality to all New Jerseyans.”

“The governor’s comment is an insult to those who had no choice but to fight and die in the streets for equal rights,” she added.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) had a similar take. “Dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote, to be subject to the sentiments, the passions of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and the sentiments of the majority. This is the fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for.”

Gov. Christie sounds like someone who has never faced any kind of discrimination. He has never lived a day in his life with the knowledge that there are laws that were written in such a way as to deny him a life with all his basic rights intact. Must be nice.

Rights are not something you vote on.  That's why they are rights; they are fundamental to the foundation of our country.  They are the essence of freedom; they don't restrict us, they liberate us.  And that is why a lot of people didn't like the idea of black people voting in the South -- or anywhere else -- and that's why they don't like the idea of same-sex couples having the same rights and responsibilities as straight couples.  It's not the act that enrages them (although some of them are really hung up on gay sex); it's the fact that they cannot abide the idea of people they hate and fear having the same rights as they do.

I'll give Gov. Christie the benefit of the doubt; after all, he just appointed an openly gay man to the state supreme court.  He's a privileged white guy who doesn't have the insight to know or understand what it's like to live without something, so it's easy to dismiss the call for a right that he's never been without.  That doesn't make him a homophobic bigot; it just makes him a jerk.

Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The rise of Mitt, the end of Newt? Idle thoughts on tonight's GOP debate in Florida


Okay, let's do this.

-- For the record, American Idol was a whole more compelling than this ridiculous, faux-dramatic theater tonight.

-- I tweeted and re-tweeted a ton during the debate. (You can see those tweets and/or follow me here.) Here are some of my efforts:

"This may be the 18th GOP debate, but the humidity makes it feel like the 37th."

"I'm proud to be a card-carrying member of the secular elite."

"Give Newt the Nobel Peace Prize. He just solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in about 45 seconds. (Uh, no, not really.)"

"Yes, the best way to liberate Cuba is to isolate it and thereby keep it totalitarian. It's worked so well lo these many decades. Awesome."

"Wolf Blitzer makes Mitt Romney look like a man of extreme profundity and authenticity. And that's tough."

"Which candidate would be more willing to blow Rubio in return for his support?" (My bet would go to Romney.)

"I still think Romney's a Stalinist for forcing Mass'ers to have health insurance."

" - It's not that Mitt's wealthy. It's that he's a privileged rich douche with a massive sense of plutocratic entitlement."

"': Romney sharper tonight, Gingrich off his feed. What accounts for this?' Desperation? New killer software uploaded into his cranium?"

"': I bet Newt is dreading the space round.' At least Newt's got vision, though. Mitt's just got huge bank accounts he wants huger."

There you go. If you want more, again, go here


If I'm giving out grades, and I suppose I am, here's what they are, divided into two: actual debate performance (how they performed in a vacuum) and expectations/needs (how they did relative to expectations and/or in terms of what they needed to do going in):

Actual debate performance

Santorum: A-
Paul: B
Romney: C+
Gingrich: C-

Santorum showed once again that he's a formidable debater. He was mostly crisp and clean and avoided any major mishap. Paul was fairly subdued, but his answers were often thoughtful and well-articulated -- particularly his answers on Cuba and religion.

Just because Romney channelled his inner Newt and went on the offensive doesn't mean he did well. He still looked stiff and sounded unconvincing. Pandering frequently, and seeming to be reading his lines, he appeared, as usual, remarkably inauthentic. Because that's just what he is.

Newt... alas. He picked it up later in the debate, but he was on the defensive early on and didn't seem to have an answer for Romney's various attacks, all of which he should have anticipated.


Romney: A-
Santorum: B+
Paul: C
Gingrich: D+

Yes, Romney "won" the debate. The tide was already turning in his favour, with Newt appearing to have peaked (at least in Florida, if not yet nationally), but, going in, the clear expectation was that Newt, the better debater, would wipe the floor with him. Because that didn't happen, and because he exceeded the exceedingly low expectations he had going in, at least as the media was telling it, Mitt effectively confirmed his status as frontrunner and likely nominee. He was already going to win Florida. Now he'll probably win by more.

Santorum did enough to stay relevant. Social conservatives still like him. There isn't much Paul can do to improve his standing, but he was more coherent than in some recent debates. His cult still loves him, and always will.

Gingrich needed to win, and win big, to shift the momentum back his way, but, in a way, he was never going to be able to do that. A win would have been seen as predictable and so no big deal. Which is to say, he had very little to gain and a ton to lose. And he lost a ton. It's too early to say that his campaign is over, but what little chance he had just got littler.


Oh, two more of my tweets:

"Yeah, so Romney finally got the message. It's not enough just to be a privileged rich douchebag. You have to be an asshole as well."

"So here's what happened. Mitt consumed Newt and absorbed his spirit. They are now one being. The new Romney is the worst of each."


Okay, yeah, I'd say Newt is just about done. I realize that's quickly become the CW, and I don't want to be sucked into premature predictions (e.g., Perry will win... how can he lose?), but it's hard to see how he recovers.

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Mitt Romney: The douchebaggery deepens

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter: 

Romney says omitting a $3M Swiss bank account from financial disclosures was "trivial." (link to an important L.A. Times story)

-- ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress)

Add this to his dismissive claim that almost half a million dollars (for his speaking fees) is "not very much," and you can see why the privileged rich douchebag narrative has taken hold. (And won't be going away anytime soon, if ever, especially with Newt going all right-wing populist on him and with the Obama campaign salivating more and more with each new embarrassing revelation.)

I realize he's a very wealthy man with money all over the world, from Switzerland to the Caymans, but how do you just omit $3 million? And how, as a major political figure with presidential aspirations, do you not take better care of your financial statements? Do you really not think someone's going to do a little digging?

Or do you have such a lofty sense of plutocratic entitlement, what with all your "secret" foreign bank accounts, that you just can't be bothered to give a damn?

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Out with the Good and in with the Bad: It's just so yesterday.

Guest post by Ramona

Ed. note: This is Ramona's fifth guest post for us. Her first four were on cruelty in America, abuse against women, the creepiness of Herman Cain, and Black Friday. -- MJWS

Ramona is a freelance writer based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Her blog, "Ramona's Voices," is liberal-leaning, with such a small amount of navel-gazing you'll hardly even notice. She is also on the masthead at dagblog, a gathering place for dissidents and reprobates and other friendly people.


Here it is nearing the end of January and at long last, after 17 Republican debates -- count 'em, 17! -- we're down to two actual contenders and a couple of valiant bench-warmers. While Ron Paul and Rick Santorum work hard to make some headway, it looks like it's Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, neck-and-neck, fighting it out for a chance to clobber the current White House occupant and show this country what a real president looks like.

Brian Blanco/European Press Photo Agency

Mitt the Peacemaker, the soft-spoken everyotherman, knows going in he'll never be able to out-mean Newt. Newt the Hysterian has perfected condescending bulldoggedness until it's a veritable political art form. Nobody does it better. His opponents drool at the scope of his talents, awestruck by his ability to use those tools to sidestep any attempt at a messy question. Bad Newt! Bad Newt! And (sigh) the crowds love him.

Poor Mitt stammers, stutters, fast-talks until he's blue in the face, ripping into Newt with all he's got, and nobody cares. So the decision has been made: No more Mr. Nice Guy! He goes for the jugular in the Tampa debate but barely strikes a nerve. It's anybody's guess where he'll need to go from here. It won't be pretty -- a thought that goes against gentle Mitt's Bain, um, grain -- but it's not as if he hasn't had to take people out before.

So there goes Good, off to fend for itself while the candidates get their Bad mojo going so they can become crowd-pleasers, too. Rick Santorum tried it the other day when a woman in his audience went off on President Obama's legitimacy. She wouldn't call him "President" because he shouldn't be there. "He is an avowed Muslim," she said, "and my question is, why isn't something being done to get him out of our government?"

Santorum could have done what candidate John McCain rightly if reluctantly did in 2008 when a woman in his audience repeated that same "Obama is a muslim" mantra. To McCain's everlasting credit, he stopped the woman dead, saying, "No ma'am, that's not true." But Santorum side-stepped it, feeding the woman's fears with, "Believe me... I'm doing everything I can to get him out of the government."

When the press called him on it later, he Gingriched it, huffing and bluffing, "It's not my responsibility as a candidate to correct everybody who makes a statement that I disagree with. There are lots of people who get up and say stuff in a town hall meeting and say things that I don't agree with, but I don't think it's my obligation, nor should it be your feeling that it's my obligation to correct somebody who says something that I don't agree with." (And he's appalled that they would even suggest such a thing. Appalled! Wait -- frankly appalled!)

Ron Paul says the housing mess is "all government manufactured. The best thing you can do is get out of the way." This from a man who wants to be president. Of the United States. Because the last thing we need is some huge honcho giving us advice. Or telling us what to do. So if you elect him, rest assured that he will not do his job.

But then, not 24 hours after that last debate in Tampa, Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address. It's an elegant, impassioned plea for fairness, a love song to the people, a nudge back to sanity. It's more than a promise to get things done, it's an outline of how it will happen. The scorched earth is greening up. Hope is on the horizon. And Gabby Gifford's smile lights up the universe.

AP photo/Saul Loeb

Krauthammer concedes that "Obama has set the right tone." Daniels rebuts with faint praise. The Twitterverse goes wild! Good is off the mat and on its feet, ready for another round.

And four horsemen can be seen riding off, their banshee howls echoing, then fading, then gone.

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Behind the Ad: Pro-Romney super PAC says Gingrich is no Ronald Reagan

(Another installment in our "Behind the Ad" series.)

Who: Restore Our Future, a Super PAC supporting former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's bid for the GOP presidential nomination. (Romney attacks Gingrich.)

Where: Florida.

What's going on: The Super PAC is taking issue with Newt Gingrich's frequent mentions of Ronald Reagan. According to The New York Times' Nate Silver, Gingrich has actually dropped Reagan's name 55 times in the various nomination debates. As The Washington Post describes it, it is sometimes to honor one of the leading figures of modern conservatism, but it is also to claim that he, Gingrich, had worked closely with the former president.

On the latter point, the ad takes aim at the claim that the two men were at all close, stating that Reagan only mentioned Gingrich once in his diaries and there only to criticize him for his ideas that would "cripple our defense program."

Given how much Newt likes to present himself as a student of history, it seems rather sweet that the ad portrays this sanctimonious twit as little more than a footnote of the Reagan years. My guess is that poking fun at Gingrich's self-importance is not a bad approach. The more we see of him, the more this is likely to become his Achilles heel. Is there any conservative "success" for which he won't take credit? I give the ad two thumbs up.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Spaced out: Newt promises U.S. moon base and manned mission to Mars

(For your musical pleasure, make sure to watch the clip below. It's Sinatra, dammit!)

As you may have heard, because the story was flying around the Twitterverse and pretty much ever other -verse seemingly at the speed of light, Newt Gingrich said yesterday that he would establish a permanent U.S. base on the moon by the end of his second term -- which is to say, within nine years:

In a speech pandering to Florida's aerospace community ahead of the state's primary, GOP contender Newt Gingrich made a bold pledge to establish a permanent U.S. base on the moon "by the end of my second term." He further promised that if he becomes president, America will get a man to Mars "in a remarkably short time." A budget-conscious President Obama ended the program for a lunar colony and moon trip after NASA reported it didn't have the money for any part of the plan, "and even if it were to get a budget infusion, the schedule was unworkable." Gingrich rebutted the charge that he is "grandiose" by comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln, the Wright Brothers and John F. Kennedy. ThinkProgress has previously reported on Gingrich's curious space fetish, which has included an idea for a "mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons" for nighttime driving.

While this particular pledge is crazy, if only because it's so ridiculously unrealistic given the current fiscal situation, I'm actually willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this and to credit him for being one of the very few major political figures in the U.S. committed to space exploration.

Sure, he may have been pandering for votes, but it's not like it was his first foray into space policy (if I may call it that). And while I certainly understand the limitations imposed by the current fiscal situation and the need to focus on other, more earthly priorities (e.g., fighting climate change, fighting poverty), I am fully supportive of a strong, well-funded, and visionary U.S. space program (working in collaboration with other countries' programs), with the federal government taking an active leadership role in making it happen, just as it has in the past with the Apollo and shuttle programs, among others.

It is only human to quest, to explore, to reach out into the darkness, into the unknown. Think where we'd be today if there hadn't been that commitment to go to the moon. Or if previous generations of explorers had just stayed home. We are richer for our quest to discover, and our future, it seems to me, if we have one, lies in space as much as it does here on earth.

But... let's get back to Newt. I followed the story initially on Twitter yesterday, and I present to you here some of the best tweets that came my way (cleaned up slightly). First there was disbelief (wait, did Newt really say that?), but then the comedy virtually wrote itself:

-- Rick Klein: "Newt (really) today: 'By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon and it will be American.'"

-- ThinkProgress: "Gingrich rebuts the charge that he is 'grandiose' by comparing himself to Lincoln, the Wright Bros, and JFK "

-- Josh Marshall: "Romney responds with plan to take over moon, load it up with debt and close it down."

-- LOLGOP: "What will Newt do if he finds aliens on the moon? What if they've been there like twenty or thirty years?"

-- Richard Skinner: "At the base, 8-year-old lunar children will to learn a work ethic."

-- David Corn: "Will an American born on the moon be eligible to run for president in the year 2060? "

-- Molly Ball: "We laugh at Newt's moon-base plans now, but our children growing up in the Pres. N.L. Gingrich Moon Colony won't be laughing."

-- Greg Sargent: "Breaking: Obama to vow to wrap the moon in US flags by the end of his second term to prove his devotion to American exceptionalism."

-- John Cole: "I think liberals should compromise and agree to permanently station Newt Gingrich on the moon."

All very funny. And of course there were many others.

But let me wrap up this post with this, if I may speak to Gingrich directly:

Newt, dear egomaniacal Newt, it's fine and even rather admirable, in a way, that you're talking up space exploration and promising a moon base, but, uh, let me be blunt: You're no Lincoln, you're no JFK, and there's no way you would have gotten that plane off the ground at Kitty Hawk. Now please get back to kicking Romney's ass as hard as you can.

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Elizabeth Warren needs to relax

That's more like it.
I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Warren, who is running for a Massachusetts Senate seat for the Democrats against Republican incumbent Scott Brown. I like her message. She articulates the plight of the middle class very well and understands what has to be done to improve it. She's obviously really smart and an asset to the party. But she is clearly new to this whole "politics" thing, and it showed in her interview with Jon Stewart a couple of nights ago.

It's much better to be calm and apparently in control on television. Something about it being a "cool medium." Ms. Warren was vibrating in the interview, way too excited, and, to be truthful, it was a little hard to watch.

I don't mean to be hard on her. As I said, I think she's terrific, but someone needs to work with her to help her get more of the optics right. Hey, politics is performance art.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Dissing The Prez

By Carl
OK, by now, you've either seen or heard about this picture, where Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sticks her claw-like index finger into President Obama's face, practically picking boogers out of his nose. All that's missing is the broom and the pointy hat.
Both sides have downplayed the photo, and said it was a cordial if spirited exchange. Given that the White House has played Jackie Robinson these past four years to the bigots as they've come across them, that's no surprise. Brewer's interviews since the incident tell two different tales, but the ones told to FOX could just be bragging.
So let's take that at face value and say it was not an angry lecture.
That doesn't excuse her actions, much. As a governor herself, she has to know that there is always a camera around, and that gets manifold multiplication when the President is involved.
Even allowing that it might have been a moment of exuberance, it's still telling that she pointed a finger at him like he was the boy raking her garden.
It's also rather telling that she whines about him lecturing her IN THE OVAL OFFICE, where, you know, it's his home turf, and not a place of equals. I wonder, do they teach manners in Arizona schools? It sounds like maybe they should.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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Bring out the Bibles, bring out the guns, Jesus is coming to town

By Capt. Fogg

The headline in yesterday's paper summarizing the President's State of the Union message is 3/8 of an inch tall. The headline just under it, reading RICK SANTORUM RALLIES IN STUART is in bold face type and is much bigger. Welcome to the monkey house.

Santorum was here on Florida's Treasure Coast Tuesday, holding forth at the Community Christian Academy to parents and grade school students, a horror of which some are particularly proud. It's an "up-close look at politics in action," said school officials.

That live action, these politics, included a prayer by the 'Reverend' Dan Holland, affiliated with the school and the pastor of Community Baptist Church in Stuart, Florida.
"I like what he said in the South Carolina rally, where he said ' I come from a place where they have a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other'"

Rick Santorum doesn't need a script, because he really isn't saying much and with such an audience, it doesn't matter whether he makes sense or mangles facts or makes them up. Rick speaks from the pulpit and anything said Ex Cathedra will not be questioned by this crowd. Besides, it's precisely what they want to hear: Barack Obama is the worst president this country has ever had, who hates capitalism, wants to take away what God wants you to keep to yourself and is destroying our natural order of things. Don't forget this is a religion that demands that women be subservient, hints that black people should stay in their place and since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would vote for anything that hated Democrats.

Santorum's ever predictable message was about "family Values" "fiscal responsibility" and "ridding the White House of Barack Obama." One can take the last of the three as the real message since my idea of family values does not include veiled calls to armed crusade and lying about the economy.

An all-white group of 350 heard him say:
"we have to have a candidate who stands proudly, consistently, aggressively, forcefully for the values that made this country the greatest country in the history of the world."

Presumably that greatness was attained with Bibles and guns and anyone suggesting that we are in any way sinners, transgressors or less than perfect instruments of God's Christian ambitions, can go straight to Hell along with that apologist Obama.

They heard him howl about That Commie, apologist, freedom hating Obama bailing out Wall Street from the excesses and crimes the Republicans encouraged them in instead of using "free market forces" which would as any legitimate economist would likely tell you have brought that "greatest country in the history of the Universe" down to the level of Haiti. Still, the problem of galloping poverty isn't lack of resources, said Santorum, contradicting himself,
"the problem is in the home, the problem is in the churches, the problem is in the community. The people living in these woods are not the federal government's problem. . ."

Let's use poverty, disease and misery to fill the pews, because a just society is a commie, secular humanist Christ-hating society.

Perhaps he could have explained to me why the Republican's promise to provide jobs instead of food stamps while it's 'not the government's problem' isn't honest or consistent -- or how unlettered country folk with bibles and guns are going to help in the new anarchistic utopia he offers them -- but trying to present Rick Santorum as a rational candidate with any further agenda than dismantling all the rules that keep markets free, creating a new Christian aristocracy and most of all, hanging up that "White's Only" sign over the door at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a scam and a con and a farrago of flim-flam as great as any in the history of the world.

People like me can wonder how dismantling our entire economic system, refusing to pay the bills, can be called Conservatism, or any of the other radical, ultra-Chauvinistic, Denialist and dishonest rhetoric that smells more like Attila's unwashed hordes, but the blue-hair church ladies, their God smitten and brainwashed children and the rest of the angry Community Christian Academics don't seem to care. There's just something wrong out there and they don't know what it is and the sick Mr. Rick and his sanctimonious rabble are at hand to point out the enemies and heretics for the burning.

Cross posted from Human Voices)

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Post-SOTU thoughts on the SOTU: An uninspiring but nonetheless effective speech

A day later, I remain unimpressed by yesterday's State of the Union address. But I think it was one of those speeches, one of those political events, that appears better in hindsight, once it all sinks in, than it does in the moment.

Here are some thoughts:

-- The speech indeed lacked vision, or any sort of coherent governing philosophy, but I suppose that wasn't the purpose. Last year it was all about America's "Sputnik moment." The president was visionary, providing aspirational leadership of the kind one expects from the presidency at its most lofty. It may not have been his best speech as president, as some suggested, but it was still strong. Certainly both that one and this one offered Obama's future-oriented economic nationalism -- i.e., America can be great (again) by embracing such nationalism (while remaining internationalist otherwise) -- and sense of American exceptionalism, but this year's lacked the Kennedy-esque vision of last year's. Perhaps both are unrealistic and delusional insofar as the "glory" days of the Cold War are not about to be repeated, not least because there is no way Washington, as divided as it is (like the rest of the country), will support the sort of government activism necessary to get America truly back on top again (if that's even possible), but, again, at least last year's, for all its faults, seemed to point towards excellence.

-- If the purpose last year was to lay out a noble vision for America and the means of realizing that vision that was dramatically at odds with the regressionism of the Republican Party, the purpose this year was to set the table for the general election campaign to come. As Jon Chait wrote, Obama was "backfilling the political narrative" in anticipation of a race against a certain Republican alternative: "Vast portions of the speech were devoted to setting out a favorable contrast with Mitt Romney." He didn't have to mention his name. When he praised the bailout of the auto industry and the success of General Motors, all he had to say was that some others had been against it. Yes, Romney, who through his father is from Michigan, was against it. Look for this to be a major issue on the campaign trail. Obama knows it's a winner. Similarly, when he talked about the super-rich having to pay their fair share of taxes, referencing Warren Buffett, well, we all know he was pointing a finger at Romney. In this regard, I suppose his speech was a success. If nothing else, it set out where he's going to go heading to November. Of course he'll have to change things up a bit if it's Newt, but that's such a desirable (if unlikely) outcome of the Republican race that there's no point worrying about it now.

-- As I have been pointing out, noting an emerging and possibly cementing narrative, the big problem for Romney is not that he's super-rich, nor even that he's a shameless panderer to whatever constituency he needs at the time, but that he's a privileged rich douchebag. All along, it has been expected that he would shift back to the center for the general election and have trouble holding onto whatever conservative support he built up during the primaries. But I actually don't think that's what's going to happen -- if he wins. Rather, he'll have trouble winning independents. And not just because he's had to pander to the right but because most independents are turned off by his privileged rich douchebaggery. Look at it this way: A lot of independents are what used to be called "Reagan Democrats." In ethnic/economic terms, they're the white working class. Obama had trouble with this constituency in his battle with Hillary in '08 and hasn't been doing well with them throughout his presidency, in large part because of Republican propaganda but also because, despite his generally centrist policies, he hasn't governed in terms specifically favorable to them: that is, nationalistic economic populism.

With Romney, though, there's an opening, as Romney has been doing poorly thus far with the white working class. Being an out-of-touch plutocrat who makes millions off investment income and sends his money off to Switzerland and the Cayman Islands doesn't help. Being a stiff, condescending douchebag doesn't either. And so yesterday's speech was all about the president laying out an agenda -- and a campaign platform -- designed to appeal to these voters. It was pro-military, pro-tax fairness, pro-trade fairness, and pro-Wall Street reform. It included specifics, such as support for community colleges, that white working class voters like to hear. And it presented Obama as a tough, determined president prepared to create jobs and home and kill America's enemies abroad.

If the speech was truly successful at all, it was in this regard -- in laying out a stark contrast between himself and the unnamed Romney. And judging by the positive reaction to the speech, and to the very worried responses from conservatives, it would appear that Romney will have an awfully hard time keeping up.

As "tepid" and "detached" as it may have been, as John Dickerson wrote, as boring and uninspiring as it may have been (according to me), it was nonetheless effective.

-- Given the theatrical nature of these yearly addresses, tone (or image) matters more than substance (as it so often does in politics). And, to his credit, the president appeared fully in command -- because he is. He was confident, forceful, and on point. Even more than last year, he seems to get it (see Chait, below). It's not about governing anymore, it's about winning and losing. And he's up against a party that over the past three years has taken it upon itself to try to destroy him. He did his best to rise above the partisan fray and to try to negotiate in good faith with the other side, often willing to give up a great deal to get a deal done (e.g., on health-care reform, on the budget and debt ceiling), often to the great frustration of progressives, many of whom turned against him for being Republican-lite (e.g., on civil liberties, on his militarism, on his extension of the Bush-Cheney national security state) -- and some of whom, like me, grew ever more critical even if we never abandoned him. But it's an election year. And enough is enough.

-- Chait again: "It was the speech of a man who realizes that he has only one thing left to do, and that is to win reelection. The Obama of 2009-10 was a pure pragmatic wonk, and his inattention to politics hurt his standing. Through sheer bloody obstruction, Republicans forced him to the only available alternative, which was to use his office solely as a political platform. His agenda is dead, but his public standing has benefited. Perhaps one day Republicans will wish they had been a little more flexible, and had kept the old, wonky, bargaining Obama rather than the slashing populist who's cutting their throats."

-- However much I may question Obama's populist nationalism, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the non-pragmatic Obama, the passionate, change-oriented Obama, on the campaign trail. If Republicans want a fight, let's give them one. It's about time.

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Darrell Issa

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Via twitter: 

Darrell Issa compares fracking chemical recipe to recipe for Diet Coke, says Americans have no right to know it. (link)

-- David Roberts (@drgrist)

Interesting. I had no idea you could set fire to the Diet Coke coming out of your tap. Or that some Diet Coke in a river could destroy wildlife. Or that Diet Coke could east away your body from within and destroy your community.

There's a reason Big Gas and its allies don't want their secrets getting out. And it's not because they're afraid of competition from Pepsi.

But maybe Rep. Issa should take a trip to Gasland and go for a swim in one of those pools of fracking water. I mean, if he's so sure of himself and not just a complete moron.

(Then again, Diet Coke may be just as carcinogenic as whatever the hell's in the fracking mix. No, not really, but it made you think, right?)

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This day in music - January 25, 1964: The Beatles score their first #1 U.S. single with "I Want To Hold Your Hand"

A nice clip of the lads playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand," with an intro by their producer, George Martin. What more needs to be said? (I think you have to click through to the YouTube site to get it, but that doesn't appear to be too difficult.) 

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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Mitt Romney's continuing problem with the truth

On the theory that when lies are told we all bear responsibility for pointing out the truth, I want to repeat the substance of a helpful post that Steve Benen put up yesterday. It concerns Monday night's GOP debate and Romney's continuing problem with telling the truth about pretty much anything.

Here's one of Romney's claims about President Obama:

We have $15 trillion of debt. We're headed to a, to a Greece-type collapse, and he adds another trillion on top for Obamacare and for his stimulus plan that didn't create private-sector jobs. This president has failed.

Ask Mitt anything. Just don't expect the truth.
And here's Benen's response:

  • It's true we have $15 trillion in debt, but the biggest chunk comes from Bush-era tax breaks. Romney wanted to make them permanent.
  • Anyone who seriously believes U.S. fiscal challenges are in any way similar to Greece is a fool.
  • The Affordable Care Act doesn't add to the debt, it cuts the debt by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • The stimulus created millions of private-sector jobs. Since March 2010, the U.S. economy has added 3.1 million private-sector jobs. Even playing by Republican rules, that's 3.1 million more than zero.

The final point that Benen makes is that "Romney's penchant for dishonesty in high-profile settings deserves to be story unto itself." He's quick to add, however, that he's not expecting that to happen.

It's been clear to me for some time that Mitt Romney is not a very good politician. It should be clear to everyone by now that he lacks fundamental integrity. Not only does he change his own position on any number of things to meet the needs of the moment, he also grossly misrepresents the views of others without compunction.

This guy is creepy. That's the only word for it. 

(Cross-post at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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The problem with Mitt Romney

Let me be clear about something:

The issue isn't that Mitt Romney is super-rich, as his tax returns show, nor even that he pays a low tax rate (that's a separate issue and obviously a huge problem), it's that he's a privileged rich douchebag, a rich guy who thinks that politics should be for rich guys, who has a plan to make rich people like himself even richer, just as he has advocated for that throughout his career, and who dismisses the rest of us as envious.

Is it really any wonder that his favorability rating has collapsed to Newt-like levels? He's just not as electable as he has made himself out to be, one of his key selling points, and a lot of that has to do with his douchebaggery. Independents in particular have abandoned him. As Greg Sargent explains:

Romney has taken an unusually rough battering in recent days, and he has plenty of time to turn things around. But the spike in negative views of Romney among blue collar whites suggests the possibility that the assault on his wealth, privilege, low tax rates and generally out of touch persona could be resonating with them, and is possibly beginning to define Romney among them. One imagines Republicans who are gauging Romney's electability in a general election — and were already inclined to doubt his strength among these voters — might find this somewhat worrisome.

That, I suspect, is a massive understatement.

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Steve Benen heads to MSNBC

Back in the day, I was an occasional guest blogger at Steve Benen's wonderful blog The Carpetbagger Report, sitting in for a weekend or a few days here and there while he was away. It was a wonderful experience, and it helped me, back when this blog was still fairly new and I was still trying to find myself as a blogger, become a better blogger. And, of course, it was an honor simply that Steve liked my blog and my blogging, and that gave me a lot of encouragement to keep going.

Steve moved on to Washington Monthly, where for the past few years he's been writing its Political Animal blog and otherwise emerging as one of the truly essential liberal-progressive voices in the blogosphere and indeed in political commentary generally, no matter the medium. I have always regarded him as a mentor of sorts, along with Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice, an example to follow in my own writing. We don't agree on everything, if on most things, and my voice is quite different than his, but I have always admired his extensive knowledge, ability to communicate, and commitment to Democratic politics and liberal-progressive principles. And, well, he's just a wonderful guy. Not many people would have been so generous with their time and trust to a new blogger just trying to make a bit of a mark. He was. And he has continued to be a friend.

As you may have heard, Steve is moving to MSNBC, where he'll be a producer for Rachel Maddow and a network contributor. And he'll still be blogging, thankfully -- at The Maddow Blog. It's a wonderful step for him and his career, and I think he's fully deserving of it.

On behalf of everyone associated with this blog, and from me personally, I wish to send him our most sincere congratulations.

Best of luck, Steve.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"We can do this": Not really live-blogging SOTU 2012

And so it begins...

I have no intention of really live-blogging President Obama's address night. I'm just going to sit here, drink my Traquair Jacobite Ale from Innerleithen, Scotland (a strong beer flavored with coriander), and comment at random on a variety of things, some of them having to do with the SOTU.

No Americans fighting in Iraq in nine years. And Osama bin Laden is "not a threat to this country." True on the first point, not so much on the second. Osama is still powerful, even (or especially) in death. But I get the point. Obama has ended an unpopular war but is anything but a pacifist. He's a militarist, too, and he got the baddest of the bad guys. Trump that, Mitt! -- or... Newt?!

What theater, though. How fitting that the SOTU is on the same day as the Oscar nominations. (I know, the Tonys are theater. But you get the point.)

"What's at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We must reclaim them." Ah, Obama the non-partisan. But a good case to make in a speech that, let's face it, is more or less the opening salvo of Campaign 2012 for Obama. You'll have to find the partisanship between the lines, it seems.

The president is making the case for recovery: businesses are hiring, jobs are coming back, new rules are in place to prevent shit from happening. Fantastic. "I will not return to the policies that brought about this crisis in the first place." Something like that. I just wish I had full confidence in his sincerity. He's done too much for Wall Street for me to believe that he means it -- or, rather, that he'll back up what he means with action, and lasting change.

Well, we heard this before the speech... Osama is dead, GM is alive and kicking. He just made the second point. "The American automotive industry is back." (The quotes may be slightly off, by the way. I'm doing the best I can.)

Message to Americans: Your manufacturing base is not coming back. Sorry. It may get better, and there's certainly an opportunity for innovation to improve domestic manufacturing, but the world has changed -- and it's not changing back. Just ask Apple. Billions and billions of dollars in earnings and cash, but where does it make its iconic "American" products? But, sure, go ahead and try to deal with outsourcing and stop companies from avoiding taxes.

Ah, corporate tax cuts. Of course. What else is new?

Oooh, Eric Cantor looks pissed. Is it because Obama didn't show up with a hammer and sickle?

Don't get me wrong. Policy-wise, I'm for most of this. It's fine. And certainly preferable to what the GOP has to offer. But it's all quite delusional nonetheless. Because, of course, if you tell the truth in American politics, you're doomed. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

"Americans will always win." If there are fair trading practices. Like I said: delusional.

Education... something something something... teachers... something something something... Seriously, it's all good. Though Boner -- sorry, Boehner -- looks unimpressed. I guess he doesn't think kids should stay in school.

Okay, there's no point following this. It's all about speaking points, issue after issue. It's about how the speech will be reported in the media: President Obama said a, b, c, d, etc. I just say, though, there's not a lot that's terribly compelling in this speech so far. He's moving from issue to issue, avoiding partisanship, offering some delusional/aspirational goals, along with a few concrete policy proposals, but that's about it. "We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform now." Okay, but how? And do you really think Congress will be sending you any sort of meaningful reform package anytime soon? Of course not. It's just about hitting the right notes. Like... equal pay for women! Well, fine. Who's against that... other than the Republicans? "Expand tax relief to small businesses." Great. And?

Sorry, I don't mean to be so negative. I know he's doing what he has to do. It's all part of the theater of the SOTU. And I know that leadership requires the communication of such aspirational goals. But I'm not sure what the unifying theme of this speech is. What philosophy, if you will, is driving the president? Or if not philosophy, what vision? Maybe it's coming when/if he ties it all up.

Forget the laundry list of policy proposals for a moment. What is this speech about? Honestly, I'm not sure.

Sullivan, who's live-blogging tonight, of course:

And now a Santorum-style focus on manufacturing -- and the same old abuse of the tax code to influence the economy. This is industrial policy, based on populism. It isn't unleashing the free market through tax reform. It's a throwback to paleo-liberalism. Tax breaks and subsidies to keep jobs at home. It's spitting in the wind of the global economy -- and it fails to grasp government's proper role. Workers here will never be cost-competitive with the Chinese. This is fantasy -- and cheap populism.

I have a different view of "government's proper role" than Andrew does -- I think it should have an activist role to try to rectify capitalism's injustices -- but I tend to agree with this. What we're hearing tonight is populist nationalism. Maybe that's the theme, the vision, the "philosophy." 

And, yes, it's all quite "vapid" (while making the tax code more and more complicated).

More Sullivan:

This speech is beginning to make Bill Clintons' look like clear and visionary. But people loved Clinton's long laundry list of micro-policies. I think this is the worst SOTU Obama has given. But maybe it will work. It sure seems like it has been put through a software program to pander to various industries.

I agree it's the worst, trying to think back to the others (through the haze of this ale). It just seems overly processed, as if lines were approved by focus groups and then glued together.

But who can object to "a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans." Republicans, of course! Once more, I hope he's serious and actually follows through on this. It might help if his presidency weren't sponsored by Goldman Sachs.

Uh-oh, now he's going after millionaires. Class warfare! That's what we'll hear from Romney et al. What we're hearing is that the Republican response will be all about how "divisive" this speech was. As if it's divisive to say that millionaires should pay their fair share of taxes. But that's how Republicans think -- they have no interest in requiring the rich, and especially the super-rich, to sacrifice anything at all, even for the common good.

On foreign policy, especially with respect to the Middle East... again, it's not that I disagree with what he's saying, it's that there's no unifying theme to what he's saying. No argument. No unifying vision. He'll stand up for human dignity... but he'll do everything he can to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons? He may not mean it, but... what... he's still got military action on the table? Military cooperation with Israel -- that got a standing ovation -- hoo-wah! Again, what exactly is Obama's thinking on foreign policy, on America's place and role in the world? Or is it all ad hoc, while sucking up to popularity?

"America is back!" Sure, back from where it was under Bush, but what does that mean? "America is the one indispensable nation..." On behalf of every other country in the world: Screw you, America. Seriously, do we need this sort of jingoism, cloaked as it may be in Obama's liberalism?

Would the world be a significantly worse place without America? Think about it.

And now: the military. De rigueur, of course. (And I'm generally fine with it. Not every U.S. serviceman urinates on corpses. Most of them are honorable men and women. What I object to is Obama's militarism, and, make no mistake, he's a militarist. Maybe not as reckless a militarist as his predecessor, but still one nonetheless. He'd do a lot better if he thought less that the military was the solution and considered other alternatives to the establishment of peace.)

Maybe now we'll get some genuine passion: the mission to get Osama. Oh, please. America is like that Navy Seals unit? That unit is a microcosm of America? "There is no challenge too great, there is no mission too hard..." Uplifting rhetoric, I suppose, but a bit forced, no?

"The state of our union will always be strong." Wait, did he say at any point that it is strong? I mean, I wasn't going to watch because of course we all know the state of the union is awesome. What else was there to say? But I wonder.

Anyway, now I have to stop watching. However mediocre the speech, it's the post-speech punditry that is truly horrendous, and it will be no different tonight.

Here's a final word from Sullivan:

This notion that a country, a democracy, should have the same attitude as troops fighting a war is preposterous and slightly creepy. Yes, we should put aside our differences to get important things done, put aside ideology to focus on solving problems. But we are not a military and the president is not our commander. He is our president. We have every right to argue with one another and to distrust one another at times. The whole idea of getting each others' backs in a boisterous democracy is deeply undemocratic. I do not want to be a citizen trained like a member of the Navy SEALs. Nor should anyone. This isn't Sparta. It's America. And to use the raid on bin Laden as the model of our future cooperation struck me as too easy and trite an analogy.


Look, who knows, this speech might have been fine. Gergen just called it "politically shrewd." And that's pretty much as CW as it gets. But it wasn't a powerful speech at all, despite what super-partisan Begala is saying, and while he may have done a lot tonight to reach out to independents, he'll have to do a lot more on the campaign trail to energize those of us who consider ourselves members of his, and his party's base.

Have a good night, everyone.


Okay, just a couple of comments on Mitch Daniels's GOP response:

Not much red meat for the base, but it's got its share of ridiculous partisan points: For example, Obama's "constant disparagement" of business? Really? In what world is this true? How is it anti-business to save Wall Street and the auto industry?

And he praises Steve Jobs as a job creator? What, for creating low-paying jobs in China? Please. I realize this guy is more reasonable than most in his party, but his absolute faith in the private sector (and claim that Obama and Democrats are anti-market and don't trust/believe in the American people) is far more delusional by far than anything Obama said tonight about populist nationalism. In fact, much of what he's saying is just blatantly dishonest.

Ah, there it is: Obama the divider. Please. What a bunch of fucking bullshit. Credit Daniels for saying the rich shouldn't have tax advantages, but otherwise this is just your typical old-school Republican nonsense. Just less crazy, and less crazily put, than what we normally hear from Republicans, Mitt and Newt included.

And now... good night.

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