Nov 16, 2012 05:06 PM EST This post has been updated. Sometimes a dastardly conspiracy is just a dastardly conspiracy. Indeed the Benghazi episode, at least the response to the attack, is beginning to look more and more like the work of a partisan cabal afraid of upsetting the president’s reelection prospects, exactly as conservative critics have been saying for two months.House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is providing a glimpse of what occurred in hearings today in which former CIA director David Petraeus testified: Fox News reports:Watergate had...
I hope the president starts negotiations over a "grand bargain" for deficit reduction by aiming high. After all, he won the election. And if the past four years has proven anything it's that the White House should not begin with a compromise.Assuming the goal is $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade (that's the consensus of the Simpson-Bowles commission, the Congressional Budget Office, and most independent analysts), here's what the President should propose:
WASHINGTON -- Conservative commentator and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Sunday the Republican Party should accept new ideas, including the much-criticized suggestion by Democrats that taxes be allowed to go up on the wealthy.
"It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "It really won't, I don't think. I don't really understand why Republicans don't take Obama's offer."
"Really? The Republican Party is going to fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires, half of whom voted Democratic and half of whom live in Hollywood and are hostile?" he asked.
One of the biggest fights as Congress returns will be over taxes, as cuts put in place by former President George W. Bush are set to expire at the end of the year. Republicans want to extend those tax cuts for all income brackets, while Democrats want to raise revenue by allowing them to expire for wealthy Americans.
Exit polls last week found that six in ten voters supported ending the tax cuts on the wealthy, but House Republicans have remained adamantly opposed to allowing any of the rates to expire, instead supporting other changes to the tax code. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated on Friday that was unlikely to change.
"By lowering rates and cleaning up the tax code, we know that we're going to get more economic growth," he said at a press conference. "It'll bring jobs back to America. It'll bring more revenue. We also know that if we clean up the code and make it simpler, the tax code will be more efficient. The current code only collects about 85 percent of what's due the government. And it's clear that if you have a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, that efficiency -- the effectiveness and efficiency of the tax code increases exponentially."
WASHINGTON -- On a conference call with House Republicans a day after the party's electoral battering last week, Speaker John A. Boehner dished out some bitter medicine, and for the first time in the 112th Congress, most members took their dose.
I recently overheard the following conversation:
X: "Obama won a solid victory. The people have made their views clear. They stand with the Democratic Party."
Y: "Not so fast. Remember that the Republicans won a big margin in the House of Representatives. It's really a split-decision."
This is interesting. How could the Republicans have won 55 percent of the House seats at the same time that Mitt Romney received only 48 percent of the popular vote? Did that many people split their vote? It turns out the answer is "no."
Although the Republicans won 55 percent of the House seats, they received less than half of the votes for members of the House of Representatives. Indeed, more than half-a-million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans House candidates. There was no split-decision. The Democrats won both the presidential election and the House election. But the Republicans won 55 percent of the seats in the House. This seems crazy. How could this be?
This answer lies in the 2010 election, in which Republicans won control of a substantial majority of state governments. They then used that power to re-draw congressional district lines in such a way as to maximize the Republican outcome in the 2012 House election.
To give a simple example, imagine four neighboring congressional districts, two of which are 60 percent Democratic and two of which are 60 percent Republican. One would expect that each party would win two seats in the House. But if the Republican state legislature re-draws the district lines so as to make one district 100 percent Democratic, and the other three districts each 67 percent Republican, then instead of each party winning two representatives, the Republicans will win in three of the four districts.
It was by engaging in such "partisan gerrymandering" that the Republican Party was able to turn a Republican defeat in terms of the national popular vote for members of the House into a significant Republican "victory" in terms of the number of Republicans elected. In Pennsylvania, for example, although citizens cast almost 100,000 more votes for Democratic than Republican candidates for the House, partisan gerrymandering enabled Republicans to 12 of the 18 seats in the House of Representatives.
Thus, that the Republicans will control the House for the next two years tells us nothing about how the American people voted on Tuesday, and a lot about how the Republican Party misused its political power in the state legislatures to manipulate the election and frustrate the will of the people.
I hasten to add that the partisan gerrymander is hardly the distinctive province of contemporary Republicans. Politicians of all parties have used the gerrymander from the very beginning of the republic to gain political advantage. Indeed, the word "gerrymander" was used for the first time almost exactly two hundred years ago in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812. The term was invented to mock Governor Elbridge Gerry's redrawing of Massachusetts' election districts to benefit his political party. The word was a combination of the Governor's last name and the shape of one of his more oddly shaped districts, which resembled a salamander.
Long-standing or not, partisan gerrymandering is -- and always has been -- an unhealthy part of our political process. As illustrated by the fact that John Boehner will be Speaker of the House for the next two years -- even though his party lost the election by half-a-million votes, partisan gerrymandering undermines democracy. Our constitutional system is premised on the assumption that elected officials should not use the powers of governance in order to manipulate the rules of the game to ensure their own perpetuation in power. Such conduct threatens the very integrity of democratic governance.
Although partisan gerrymandering has been with us from the beginning, it is now worse than ever, because computer modeling enables legislators to design districts that almost precisely maximize their political advantage. The question is: What can we do about it?
The obvious solution is to take the responsibility for drawing district lines out of the hands of elected officials. Several states have already done this by establishing independent commissions that perform this task. This is the approach used in other nations, such as England and Australia. This is clearly a preferable system.
The problem, though, is that the party in control of a state government at any particular moment in time is not eager to change the rules in this way. After all, why should they enact a neutral system that would cause them to lose the power to draw district lines in a way that works to their own advantage? Needless to say, it is unfortunate that legislators put short-term partisan interest above the long-term interest of their citizens, but that, sadly, is too often the nature of politics.
This is a perfect situation for the Supreme Court to break the gridlock. The Court faced a similar situation in the 1960s with the issue of malappportionment. At that time, many states had legislative districts with widely varying numbers of residents. In the typical situation, district lines had been drawn decades earlier when many more people lived in rural areas.
As the population gradually moved predominantly to cities, the lines should have been withdrawn, but legislators from rural districts refused to do so. As a result, situations arose throughout the nation in which an urban district might have ten times as many residents as a rural district, but both had one representative. It was impossible for the states to fix this situation themselves, because the rural districts refused to draw new lines that would reduce their power.
In this situation, the Supreme Court stepped in and held that the Constitution guarantees equal voting rights. It therefore required states to redraw district lines in conformity with the principle of "one person, one vote." All districts in a state, in other words, would have to have approximately the same number of residents. Without the Court's intervention, this dilemma might never have been solved.
The Court should intervene in the context of partisan gerrymandering, where the underlying problem is similar. As Justice John Paul Stevens has observed, the government cannot constitutionally "gerrymander for the purpose of helping the majority party; the government should be redistricting for the purpose of creating appropriate legislative districts."
In fact, the issue has often been before the Court, but although the more liberal Justices like Brennan, Marshall, Stevens, and Ginsburg have consistently argued that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, the conservative majority -- Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Roberts and Alito -- have steadfastly refused to invalidate partisan gerrymanders.
Why did the Republicans win the House of Representatives? Don't ask the American people. They didn't do it.
(CNN) -- Republicans are consoling themselves with the claim that President Barack Obama didn't win a mandate Tuesday night, even if he did renew his White House lease for another four years. They are fooling themselves, however, if they think the 2012 election merely ratified the political status quo. More than just a personal victory for Obama, the outcome was an unmistakable defeat for GOP ideology.Disgruntled conservatives, of course, are already dressing Mitt Romney for the part of fall guy. But this is the politics of evasion. Sooner or later, GOP realists will have to reappraise...
Yes, election night was a heck of a party and it's great that the really bad guys lost. Karl Rove and his reactionary ilk were defeated by a new American majority that is younger, more tolerant, rainbow colored and multilingual and one in which women now trump the depressing ignorance of so many older white men. But morning in America already feels too much like a hangover. The house is still a wreck, the family is dysfunctional and there are enormous bills to pay that are not about to go away.
All of us suddenly sobered folks, who voted for Barack Obama because the alternative was so horridly wrong, have got to accept the moral implications of that choice. We won but at what cost? Fool me once, shame on Obama, but fool me twice and I'm the one responsible. That goes for his promises to right the economy by leveling the playing field as well as to end what Obama termed in his victory speech "a decade of war."
It is now our fingers on the video game buttons that order the drones to kill innocent civilians, and we bear responsibility if the president maintains the Guantanamo gulag and continues to vilify Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for confronting America with its war crimes. Will he make good on his promise to hold the line on the incessant demands of the congressional defense contractor caucus or will he find yet another "good war"?
What about our expectation that Obama will be more vigilant than his vulture capitalist opponent in reining in the greed of the Wall Street crowd that has caused so much economic turmoil? The good news is that Obama, and his party, are far less beholden to the titans of the financial industry than they were the first time around. His own funding from top Wall Street firms that favored him in 2008 was way down, and across the country voters rejected the deregulation and lower tax on high roller income that the finance industry thought it was buying for its more than $400 million in campaign contributions.
"Wall Street Took a Beating at the Polls," ran the headline in The Wall Street Journal. Referring to what he bemoaned as "Tuesday's multiple disappointments," columnist David Weidner added, "not the least of which is the defeat of Mitt Romney, a former private-equity executive who promised to cut or at least review financial regulation while offering more tax breaks for investors. Mr. Romney was perhaps the best hope for Wall Street this fall. He was one of their own, so tantalizingly close to the biggest trading floor of all."
Parse the cynicism of that sentence, with its image of representative democracy as a frantic for-profit trading pit and you get what crony capitalism is all about. They thought the fix was in on bribing a compliant Congress and instead the two biggest recipients of Wall Street largess went down to defeat. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, the single most knowledgeable and effective exponent of consumer protection from financial industry scams, soundly beat Sen. Scott Brown, a champion of financial deregulation. The second main Wall Street target, Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator from Ohio who sponsored legislation that would break up the too big to fail banks, also won decisively, defeating banker-backed Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Obama didn't go as far as the Ohio senator and Harvard law professor Warren wanted but even the much more timid steps toward financial industry accountability that the president endorsed met fierce resistance from members of the Wall Street crowd. Hopefully he will finally get the message that their unfettered greed is the problem and hardly the solution. That's what it took for Franklin Roosevelt to become the true champion of the commonweal in his second term and it could salvage the historic legacy of this president as well.
Will the president now replace Timothy Geithner, the big bank toady, with a Treasury secretary that Elizabeth Warren, the senator for the 99 percent, can enthusiastically support? How about Sheila Bair for that post? The former chair of the FDIC has been a highly skilled guardian of the public interest with the knowledge base and social conscience required to stand up to the banking lobby and its allies in the Federal Reserve.
The 2012 election represents a profound mandate for change because it was a startling manifestation of the power as well as the presence of the long neglected "other" that is the face of the new America. That is the America that continued to stick with Obama, despite reservations over his actual governance, because the alternative was reactionary in the fullest sense of that word. Theirs is an idealistic trust -- indispensable to the survival of our republic -- that the president must not be permitted to now squander.
WASHINGTON -- Now that we know that President Obama will be returning to the White House to start a second term on Jan. 21, 2013, Inauguration Day planning is now in full force.
Hotels are being booked -- or already have been booked, as is the case for the Ritz Carlton in the West End, for instance, among other top hotels in the area.
Since the Jan. 20 Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday in 2013, the observed celebration will happen on Monday, Jan. 21. In addition to the swearing-in ceremony, inaugural address, parade and 11 official balls, there will be no shortage of unofficial balls, parties and more.
According to the official Inauguration site, run by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, the 2009 ceremonies drew the largest attendance of any event in the history in the nation's capital.
For more information about past ceremonies and the upcoming inauguration, visit the official website or the official Inaugural Ceremonies Facebook page.
Tickets for the inaugural swearing-in ceremonies will be distributed in January by senators and representatives that were elected -- or reelected -- this week. Congressional offices have been setting up processes to distribute tickets to their constituents.
Some guidelines, for instance, from the office of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.):
- Demand for Inaugural tickets far exceeds the number available, therefore my office will be conducting a lottery in late December to distribute the tickets alloted to my office. There is a limit of one request per household address.
- As a Senator for Colorado, my office is only able to distribute tickets to state residents. You must be a current Colorado resident to receive Inaugural tickets from my office.
- Please do not make your travel plans contingent on receiving tickets. My office will do its best to notify you in a timely manner if you have received tickets in the lottery.
- Tickets will most likely be for standing room only areas. Due to crowds, security procedures and the length of the ceremonies, ticket holders should expect to be standing outside in winter weather for several hours.
- All children old enough to walk must have their own ticket. Strollers are not allowed in any ticketed areas. Event organizers discourage bringing young children to the Inaugural ceremonies due to weather conditions, the length of time you will spend standing and limited access to restroom and dining facilities.
- There are many ways to participate in the Inaugural festivities that do not a require ticket. While a ticket may place you physically closer to the swearing-in itself, the majority of people will view the Inaugural ceremonies from the National Mall where tickets are not required.
The construction of the 2013 inaugural platform on the Capitol's West Front began on Oct. 30. View the start of the construction here.
Following the presidential inauguration ceremony at the Capitol will be the traditional parade on Pennsylvania Avenue which will end at the White House, where an official reviewing stand is also under construction.
Organized by the Joint Task Force-Military District of Washington, participants are selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Marching bands, marching units, mounted units and other performers are collected by the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee and are currently accepting applications to perform. Tickets are not needed for the parade.
Click through the slideshow for photos of past presidential inaugurations.
Two groups promoting charter schools and vouchers poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into state and local political races this year and wrote some of their biggest checks last month as they pushed to fill state House and Senate chambers with supporters.
StudentsFirst, the anti-union group started by former Washington D.C. chancellor Michelle Rhee, has handed out $427,000 through its Tennessee PAC so far this year, including $66,000 in October, according to the latest filings with the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance.
The American Federation for Children, which moved into Tennessee last spring, has given $276,000 through its PAC, including $145,300 in the four weeks leading up to the election.
"We want to ensure that folks in clearly contested races are secure in their ability to get re-elected," Malcom Glenn, the Federation's national spokesman, said Monday.
"We want to build the largest majority as possible," he said for positions the Federation supports, including opportunity scholarships (vouchers) that children in public schools could use to attend private schools and charter schools."
StudentsFirst, based in Sacramento, Calif., is interested in promoting vouchers and other school choice options, including strengthening a parent trigger law currently on the books that allows parents to petition to turn chronically underperforming schools into charter schools.
If 60 percent of a school's parents sign the petition, the school board must consider the change.
"But the school board gets the final say. We'd like to see parents in Tennessee have more power," said Brent Easley, state spokesman.
The Governor's Opportunity Scholarship Task Force will meet Tuesday to approve final recommendations of what it wants a voucher program in Tennessee to be.
Both groups decided where they would invest after polling candidates in surveys they do not share with the public.
Two years ago, neither existed in Tennessee. Their entry has raised the ante for the Tennessee Education Association. Its PAC has given $343,238 this year, up from the $284,357 it invested in political races in 2010.
"You have to follow the money," said TEA lobbyist Jerry Winters. "Groups funded by big business are something that teacher organizations are going to have a very difficult time competing with," he said.
"We did not give any contributions to any candidate who was part of what we consider the attack on collective bargaining, who voted to repeal a law that was in place for 35 years," Winters said.
The TEA PAC is funded from teacher dues, although teachers may indicate they do not want to support the PAC. "Fortunately, very few want their money redirected to other activities," Winters said. "Teachers see the impact politics has on their lives."
But with a declining membership, Winters says raising money is harder. (In 2010 TEA membership was 52,000; today it is 46,000.)
StudentsFirst, which has associations in 17 states, characterized its expenditures in Tennessee as "middle of the pack" compared to other states.
American Federation, based in Washington, invested in 100 legislative races in nine states.
"Our involvement varies from state to state, but Tennessee is among the states where we see the most potential for enacting high-quality education reform in the upcoming election," Glenn said Tuesday, characterizing it as "one of several states at the top of our list."
Both groups transfer money from national fundraising efforts to their state chapters. Under the rules of their nonprofit organization, they do not have to report their donors. ___
(c)2012 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.)
Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at www.commercialappeal.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
I have to admit, I did not write a concession column, just in case I needed it.
Seriously, a man running for the most powerful office in the country didn't bother to plan for one of the two contingencies that were guaranteed to happen last night? And he wanted us to let him make crucial decisions for all of us? Willard Mitt Romney's shocking lack of preparedness last night, when it came to speech time, was truly the icing on the sweet, sweet cake of Barack Hussein Obama's second victorious election, at least for me.
Then I looked around at the rest of the election, and saw that America hadn't just re-elected a black man to the White House, but the entire country lurched leftwards last night in a significant fashion. Which is what my title refers to (conceived in homage to the greatest subtitle on a book, ever: Geoff Nunberg's Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show). Because Obama wasn't the only big winner last night -- so was pot smoking, and gay rights, and women and Latinos. And liberalism. We're now a center-left country, so don't let anyone tell you differently (at least for the next two years).
In the very same election, the citizens of multiple states voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana and to legalize same-sex marriage -- both for the first time ever. That is stunning, when you think about it. It's the beginning of the victorious conclusion to the Sexual Revolution and the triumph of the hippies of the 1960s. Both of which consisted mostly of liberals, as I recall.
Now, states have decriminalized marijuana before, and even flirted with semi-legalization of cannabis previously, but for the first time, Colorado and Washington states have poked a rather large blunt instrument into the eye of the federal government with their vote. Same-sex marriage is legal in a few states, but it has never been approved by voters before now. This is the arc of history -- you can see it bending before you.
Does this mean we're all about to enter a liberal paradise? Well, no. Things never work out quite that easily in the real world. The Justice Department will likely fight back against the concept of legal weed, and if history is any guide, they'll fight back rather fiercely. After all, an entire industry has been built around the "War On (Some) Drugs," and billions of dollars are spent every year to keep this industry humming. So I don't expect it to go away any time soon, or to suddenly declare defeat. The drug warriors are almost religiously committed to their cause, which requires them to have an absolute faith in their beliefs, even when concrete evidence contradicts such beliefs. The number of states which have legalized marijuana for medicinal use was increased yesterday, and is now approaching half of all the United States -- and yet, the federal government refuses to admit that anyone, anywhere is using pot to alleviate suffering. Even though there are people alive who still get marijuana as a prescription for glaucoma from the very same federal government. As I said, it's a matter of faith, not rationality. All of which will lead to a gigantic court fight.
But it's a fight that is long overdue. A legal case of "Scopes Monkey Trial" proportions. Even if the case is ultimately lost at the Supreme Court, it is going to spur a political discussion that every politician since Nancy Reagan's time has been doing their best to avoid (most famously, by Bill Clinton, who "didn't inhale"). That right there is going to turn out to be a good thing, in my opinion, no matter what the outcome. Let's haul the whole subject out into the light of day and have a big political debate. It's about freakin' time.
On the gay rights front, many who voted in this election for the first time may not even remember the recent history of this fight. Back in the 1990s and 2000s, gay marriage (and gay rights in general) were used as a heavy club in elections -- by Republicans. It was the wedgiest of wedge issues they had going for them. Their reasoning was: "The more we say the word 'homosexual,' the more the suburban moderate voters are going to be scared of the liberal Democrats, and they'll reliably turn out and vote Republican." This seems like a stupid thing to do, now, but it surely wasn't back then -- because it worked so well. Want to increase GOP turnout in a weak state? Toss an anti-gay amendment on the ballot. Worked like a charm for them, while gay activists were slowly making ground getting people to accept merely same sex "domestic partnerships" or "civil unions."
The voters would reliably turn out and vote against any sort of rights for gays. Proposition 8 passed -- in California, of all places -- just four short years ago. The same election Barack Obama won the White House, the supposedly-ultraliberal California voted down gay marriage. Anti-gay marriage ballot measures worked for the Republicans thirty-two times, remember. Until last night. Meaning putting gay marriage on the ballot is now going to come from liberals and not conservatives, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it can indeed win at the ballot box. There are several cases heading to the Supreme Court on gay marriage, and the federal ban on it in particular, and this is going to be another epic legal showdown. And for the first time, gay rights activists can point to victories and say "the voters approve." That wasn't possible before today.
In 2012, the Republicans waged a "War On Women." The knuckle-draggers came out from their dark spots to paint a vision for the future of women's health rights in this country -- moving us all right back to around the 1950s. They lost at the ballot box, and they lost big. By my count, the Tea Party has now snatched defeat from the hands of the Republican Party in five Senate races. The GOP could have five more seats today, to put it another way. Last night, women voters prevented at least two of these candidates from making it to Washington. Women voters everywhere broke in an enormous wave not just for President Obama, but for liberalism on women's health issues.
Finally, the Latinos of America have weighed both political parties in the balance and (not surprisingly) decided to go with the one who wasn't demonizing and demagoguing and scapegoating them constantly. Some Republicans have been crying in the wilderness for years now on this subject, and warning that the Republican Party is dwindling as it relies solely on older white men who really do want to return to the 1950s. Perhaps the Tea Partiers will listen, but I'm betting not. I'm betting that whenever immigration reform gets discussed the first, last, and only word out of their mouths will be "Amnesty!" The only thing that's going to save the Republican Party is when they lose Texas as a reliable state -- and any chance of gaining the White House with it. This could happen in 2016 or 2020, by some estimates. Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and all the rest of the moderates will be ignored until disaster strikes. And losing Texas would indeed be a disaster, because while Mitt Romney found it hard to put together 270 electoral votes, no Republican will ever be able to do so without Texas' 38 votes. Until the party rejects its anti-immigrant stance, that is, at some point in the far future.
We all woke up to a different country this morning. Barack Obama is going to be our president for the next four years. He'll have his ups and downs, but we know who he is and we all dearly hope he will be less restrained now in his own liberalism because he'll never have to run for any election again. The conservatives will fight him every step of the way, of course. The progressives will likely fight him from the other direction, whenever a compromise is detected. Maybe, through all of this, Barack Obama can finish some of the things he started in his first term.
America woke up more liberal this morning -- it's an undeniable fact. Legal weed. Rocky Mountain high, indeed! Voters approving of marriage equality. Anti-abortion extremists losing easy Senate races. Immigration reform a real possibility. America is, as the Obama campaign slogan said, about to move "Forward!"
But one note of caution. The political winds have indeed shifted, but they can shift right back again in the blink of an eye. America is basically getting sick of our two political parties, because neither ever seems to get much done. What this has meant, since George W. Bush's time, is a whirlwind of tacking back and forth. America's political pendulum swings faster and faster -- from Obama's first victorious wave in 2008, to the Tea Party election of 2010, to now.
Personally, I'm hoping Barack Obama now steals a page from the George W. Bush playbook. Because the obsession inside the Beltway is soon going to become "Does Obama have a true 'mandate' to govern?" You could feel it sprouting and taking root last night, when the idiots who pass for our national political chattering class got all in a tizzy over the fact that Mitt Romney was still leading in the national popular vote count even after Obama had clearly won the Electoral College. "Will Romney win the popular vote?" they all smugly asked themselves -- not noticing that California's votes hadn't been counted yet. I mean, it's pretty predictable that California was going to add millions to Obama's total, but nobody even mentioned this fact. This is inside-the-Beltwayism at its worst, folks.
So I'm hoping that Obama does exactly what George W. Bush did (twice, as I recall) when asked how he could possibly govern without a clear mandate. Bush replied that he had all the mandate he needed, since he won the election... next question, please. That was all it took to shut up the media obsession. He didn't get asked the question much after that point, since all the reporters knew what he would say. Obama should do exactly the same thing, the first time someone uses "mandate" in a question to him. "I won. That's my mandate. Next question."
That way, maybe we actually can move forward, starting immediately.
As David Eisenhower taught me in his class on presidential communication at the University of Pennsylvania, strong speeches often have "echoes" of other speeches within them. Last night's victory speech is a perfect example of a speech containing "echoes."
Below I have included the last few paragraphs (in order) of President Obama's victory speech. Each successive time, the first paragraph you will read comes from President Obama's victory speech. Each paragraph below President Obama's comes from an earlier president's speech. See these potential "echoes" for yourself.
1. PRESIDENT OBAMA, VICTORY 2012: "This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared...that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great."
PRESIDENT KENNEDY, INAUGURAL ADDRESS 1961: "In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."
2. PRESIDENT OBAMA, VICTORY 2012: "I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting."
PRESIDENT T. ROOSEVELT, "CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC ("The Man In The Arena") 1910: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
3. PRESIDENT OBAMA, VICTORY 2012: "America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you're willing to try."
PRESIDENT CLINTON, SECOND INAUGURAL 1997: "Each and every one of us, in our own way, must assume personal responsibility -- not only for ourselves and our families, but for our neighbors and our nation. Our greatest responsibility is to embrace a new spirit of community for a new century. For any one of us to succeed, we must succeed as one America."
4. PRESIDENT OBAMA, VICTORY 2012: "I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America."
PRESIDENT LINCOLN, "A HOUSE DIVIDED" 1858:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other."
5. PRESIDENT OBAMA, VICTORY 2012: "And together, with your help and God's grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States."
PRESIDENT CLINTON, SECOND INAUGURAL 1997: "This is the heart of our task. With a new vision of government, a new sense of responsibility, a new spirit of community, we will sustain America's journey. The promise we sought in a new land we will find again in a land of new promise."
By 11:18 p.m. EST, America had found out that the President will be re-elected, the House will remain under Republican control and the Democrats will retain a Senate majority. Basically, everything will stay the same. So we are left to ask, will anything be different?
We still have the same issues staring us down that must be dealt with. Most pressing of which is the fiscal cliff. More to the point, we must demand that both parties in Congress start to genuinely work together. Because we all can agree, that partisan politics has gridlocked our country for far too long.
Obama tweeted: "We're all in this together." Well, he is right. But bringing the country together is a huge challenge. How can we finally end partisanship in our country? Will Obama be able to do it? No. We have to do it.
We need to stand together and say in one resounding voice -- time to work for us. Because without such pressure it will surely not happen. America can move forward, but if it doesn't start with you, if it doesn't originate from us, things will stay the same.
Together, we can force both parties to resolve the issues we all face as a nation. Together, we show that we are not that polarized, that we are united in our cause for progress -- that we have a voice that continues past our vote.
With Barack Obama poised to win re-election tommorow, here's what the political world will wake up asking come Wednesday morning.
How to Solve DC's Economic Cluster...mess?
A perfect storm of budget cuts and tax increases is set to automatically kick in over the next two months. Known as the sequester this is the result of Congress' decision to tie the failure of the bipartisan Simpson/Bowles deficit reduction commission to savage cuts in everything from defense to health spending. And at the same time the Bush tax cuts are set to expire. That's why the media's moniker of "fiscal cliff" isn't actually accurate as the combination of cuts and tax increases would be healthy for the federal government's budget even while it would hurt the economy as a whole.
So the second Obama administration must carefully negotiate a deal with a divided Congress to bring in fresh revenue from the top tier of taxpayers whilst protecting the middle class from tax increases. As for spending cuts, whilst some are needed, the scale of the sequester is far too drastic and must be curtailed.
But the mess doesn't end there: Congress hasn't passed a budget for nearly a year and another dangerous showdown with Tea Party-crazed House Republicans on the debt ceiling awaits come 2013.
She's been loyal to the President and clearly has the campaigning chops. But even more important is the strategic case for Hillary. Dems are set to win tomorrow thanks to a demographic coalition known as 'the rising electorate' that comprises unusually high levels of turn out amongst hispanics, African Americans and women bolstered by battleground blue-collar workers. To hold the White House in 2016 for an extraordinary third term, Dems will need that coalition to hold together and turn out with similar enthusiasm as they achieved for the nation's first black president. That argues for a candidate who can inspire all of those groups. And so with all due respect to some fine smart white males like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley or Virginia Senator Mark Warner, Dems probably need someone special. In fact, the long term electoral legacy of 2012 may well be: whither the white male in Presidential politics?
Ryan vs Rubio?
Facing the 'rising electorate' of minorities, young voters and women that favour the Democrats, Republicans may well turn to the star of their Tampa Convention, Senator Marco Rubio. Young, Hispanic, Conservative: his nomination is the logical choice. But Romney's loss will cause conservatives to rage that they were betrayed again by the top of the ticket and that for the second time running the true conservative soul of the Grand Old Party was only represented by their vice presidential nominee. 'No more!' they'll shout and demand their due. And it's Romney running mate Paul Ryan who may well be best placed to tap into this anger: his impeccable social conservative creds combined with his budget hawk profile gives him a strong starting powerbase. The fight will be fascinating.
What's a second term for?
Against a split Congress and having won a tough election more by defeating Romney then spelling out his forward offer, a huge question for the next four years is, well, just what is it for? In terms of legacy proper, the administration needs to implement Obamacare which only really comes online in 2014 but that's more for the bureaucracy then the White House. So what does President Obama use his four years for: an Israeli/Palestinian peace deal? Climate change and energy independence? Or education (given that the stand out promise of his Charlotte acceptance speech was his 100,000 new teachers pledge)?
Will politics get better pundits?
Lastly, and at the risk of being too inside-baseball, the frankly pathetic standard of coverage displayed by most of the mainstream media particularly in the weeks following the first debate, is a matter for grave reflection. In the face of clear statistical evidence of the president's likely victory the press conspired to call the race "to close to call" or "a tie". The question is, will future pundits more closely resemble NBC's Joe 'anyone who thinks this isn't a toss up is an idiot' Scarborough or 538's über-nerd Nate Silver? Sadly, as long as political coverage is dominated by those more accustomed to passing judgement based upon gut instinct and cosy in-crowd gossip then multiple datasets with hypotheses tested against reality, I fear that at least for a few years yet we know the answer to this question.
DUBUQUE, Iowa — If anything gets under President Obama’s skin in the final, fraught days of this campaign, it is Mitt Romney’s attempt to expropriate the “change” label, which Mr. Obama all but trademarked in his historic run for the White House four years ago. On a morning-to-midnight tour of Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Virginia on Saturday, Mr. Obama repeatedly scoffed at Mr. Romney’s effort to present himself as a change agent, calling him instead a “talented salesman” who was merely dressing up the failed...
Question? Call us at 800-207-8001 | Sign In | Learn About MembershipBy Ronald Brownstein President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Miami Field House in Coral Gables, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. In the campaign's final days, President Obama's hopes of reelection may turn on his ability to assemble very different coalitions of support in the Sunbelt and the Rustbelt, a wave of new battleground state polling this week suggests.In diverse Sunbelt states like Virginia, Florida and Colorado, Obama is drawing enough backing from minorities and upscale white women to...
I would be the last person to find something good to say about the hurricane that devastated the east coast this week. Just the thought (I can't read the news stories) of that young mother in Staten Island whose two little ones slipped out of her arms into the raging flood makes me feel ill.
And then there is this: my mother's home in Rockaway Park, N.Y., looks like a total loss. It may not be if FEMA and the insurance all come through but after 60 years in the big old stucco house, my 94-year-old mother will almost surely never sleep there again.
And our family, which has been connected to the Rockaways since the 1930s, may lose the repository of all our memories and our personal ties to a wonderful, beautiful place. But that is nothing compared to what some of the neighbors are enduring.
No, no tangible good can come out of this, but a transforming change might.
Americans learned over the past week that the greatest threats we face are here at home. Or, as John Quincy Adams put it, Americans now see that we do not need to "go abroad to slay dragons" when the real dragons are here at home.
The number one threat to us all is climate change, the rising sea levels that made the hurricane such a catastrophe. That is a threat that needs to be addressed globally, but now with the United States among the leaders. We can no longer stand on the sidelines as if our wealth insulated us from natural disasters. After last week, climate change is as local as it is global, as local as New York and New Jersey. Only fools will behave as if America is an exceptional island immune from the storm.
And other changes must come, too. Infrastructure is collapsing. Our medical delivery system is overloaded. Many of the dams and dikes we need don't exist. The people of the Gulf Coast and now New York and New Jersey paid a price because our government was denied the resources it needed to protect them. (Fortunately, the budget cutters never got to gut FEMA and now they never will.)
And we have wasted our resources on unnecessary wars. That is already changing because we are getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan. And, I think it is safe to say, we are not going in to Iran.
Even if Gov. Romney wins, and I don't think he will, we are not going to war with Iran nor will we allow Israel or any other country to drag us in.
Romney, an international business consultant, no doubt shares the view of most of those in that sector. Unless directly involved in selling war materiel (like Dick Cheney's Halliburton), business wants to sell to foreigners not bomb them. (And not strangle potential consumers of our goods with sanctions either, as we are doing with Iran). No, the answer is diplomacy. We cannot afford war.
The Iran dragon, if that is what it is, must be dealt with through unconditional negotiations. We have got to stop playing the world's cop.
This does not mean we cannot provide aid to other countries who need it. Our foreign aid programs to Africa, Asia and Latin America are disgracefully small. And we need to provide emergency assistance where needed too. And help struggling democracies.
But mainly we need to focus on America, on securing our people from natural disaster just as we try to do from threats from abroad.
The good news is that protecting Americans from natural threats creates jobs, good jobs. And with the Bush tax cuts slated to expire at the end of the year, we will have the resources to create them. That is so long as the two Middle East wars that we are withdrawing from are not replaced by a new one.
This sounds like isolationism. It is realism. Americans must come first.
The late Sen. George Mc Govern said it best in his acceptance speech in 1972 after his nomination for president:
Come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this "is your land, this land is my land -- from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters -- this land was made for you and me."
May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home
McGovern was right when he said those words in 1972. Although he is no longer with us. He is still right.
Come home, America. We have a country to rebuild.
Suburban Cincinnati could decide the nation's future.SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- Butler County may prove to be the key to the entire 2012 election, Ground Zero of the battle for the White House and essential to Mitt Romney's hopes for victory. That explains why, when the Romney campaign scheduled Friday's massive "Victory Rally" to kick off a four-day final pre-Election Day tour, they chose Butler County as the site.An all-star cast of Republicans -- including Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker John Boehner, Condoleezza Rice and Marco Rubio -- will join Romney and his running mate...
I'm sitting in my dining room right now, staring out the window thinking about the somewhat terrifying 'super storm' that is just beginning its long march through my neighborhood.
To be honest, I'm spending most of my time wondering if any of the enormous trees that surround my house are going to stop defying what seems to be basic physics and break.
I always forget until we're in another hurricane just how plain freaky it looks when trees appear to be doing calisthenics.
Now I want to stop thinking about that because really what can you do about it anyway, big trees little house, not a fun calculation. To take my mind off silly Sandy, I'm going to think about the election.
Truly, what else do I think about these days? There are a lot of people trying to decipher exactly what this storm will mean for the outcome.
They'll talk about voter turnout, campaign schedules and appearances.
I think those discussions miss the point. This is a perfect example of what is at the heart of the race for president.
What role should the federal government play in the lives of ordinary Americans?
There has been a lot of talk on the campaign about making the "tough decision to bring down the debt, to balance the budget, reduce the size of government."
Those are all nice slogans, but no one is talking about what that could actually mean.
The Republicans probably won't want to stress this right now, but vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget called for eliminating funds that have been budgeted for disaster relief.
It would require future emergency spending on storms to be dramatically limited, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
A sentiment that seems to be shared by the top of the ticket as well.
According to the Washington Post, when asked in a debate about the possibility that federal disaster response could be curtailed to save federal dollars, Governor Mitt Romney replied: "Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better."
The Romney campaign is now pushing back on this, saying the governor wouldn't get rid of the Federal Emergency Management Agency but would let states have more say in how the money is spent.
So basically, he's agreeing with the system that is already in place.
When it comes to the details of exactly what he would cut to make a dent in a $16 trillion debt, he won't give specifics, beyond public television and children's programming.
I can't help but think that if he really is going to balance the budget while "growing the military," programs like FEMA would have to be cut.
That might actually be the hard reality of it, regardless of who wins the presidency. I can't tell you what President Barack Obama would do because he hasn't even come close to balancing the budget.
He also hasn't laid out specifics as to how you go from more than a trillion dollar deficit yearly to something more sustainable.
He's talked about $4 trillion in cuts, but he's using the famed "fuzzy math" to get there.
I really doubt many Americans are thinking about this right now, as the rain comes down in sheets and the trees do their version of a hula dance.
I am thinking in the coming days it might be discussed, or at the very least it should be.
This is about to be a real life, terrifying and desperate display of the role the federal government now plays in our lives.
I'm sure I have more to say on this, but as I write, I just saw a 40 foot (12 metre) tree touch the ground with the tip of its highest leaves, so I'm going in the basement.
President Barack Obama said in an interview Monday that the Republican party would have to overcome an internal war if he were reelected, but expressed hope that the partisan gridlock in Washington could come to an end.
"There are a whole range of issues I think where we can actually bring the country together with a non-ideological agenda," Obama said in a pre-taped interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"The question’s going to be, how do Republicans react post-election?" he continued. "Because there’s going to be a war going on inside that party. It just hasn’t broken up. It’s been unified in opposition to me."
Obama has blamed the slow economic recovery during his first term on the obstructionist agenda of congressional Republicans, who have blocked many of the president's proposals. He has repeatedly argued that the House GOP has waged ideological warfare over historically bipartisan issues. Republicans have countered that the president is fundamentally unwilling to compromise.
Asked by host Joe Scarborough what would be different if, in a second term, Obama was once again dealing with a Republican majority in the House, the president expressed more optimism that Democrats and Republicans would come together to tackle the debt and deficit.
"I truly believe that if we can get the deficit and debt issues solved, which I believe we can get done in the lame-duck or in the immediate aftermath of the lame-duck, then that clears away a lot of the ideological underbrush," he said. "And then now we can start looking at a whole bunch of other issues that, as I said, historically have not been that ideological."
Still, Obama seems prepared for the possibility that if he is reelected, Republicans in Congress might not be willing to cooperate. In an interview with Time magazine, the president said he would be willing to "look for ways to do [things] administratively and work around Congress."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who infamously stated before the 2010 midterm elections that the "single most important thing" for Republicans would be to ensure that Obama be a one-term president, recently told The Huffington Post that cooperation in a second Obama term would require that the president have "an epiphany."
"The question for him is, 'Do I go to the middle and meet these guys halfway, like Reagan and Clinton did, or do I just double down on the left and we throw things at each other for four years?" McConnell said.
Beth Broderick: Hell Just Froze Over!: Why Even Many Texas Conservatives Turned on Ted Cruz and Endorsed… the Democrat
Some of the staffers expressed surprise when wave after wave of endorsements came into the Paul Sadler Senate campaign offices. Paul Sadler was not surprised and while he is far too polite to say "I told you so," he is also not amused. Texas Democrats have sent 20 million dollars out-of-state to elect House and Senate candidates and in support of President Barack Obama. Donations to his campaign have been dismal. Here he is favored by even the most conservative newspapers in the state and yet he has no war chest with which to vanquish his wounded opponent Ted Cruz. Paul Sadler could have told you this would happen.
Why was he certain all along that the Ted Cruz' five minutes of fame would be so fleeting? Two reasons. One: he knows Ted Cruz and believes that the things he says are either politically unpopular or just too extreme for Texas. Two: He knows the endorsement process involves in-depth interviews during which even the most right-leaning editors would conclude that indeed the things Ted Cruz says are if not nuts, then highly suspect.
The left-leaning Austin American Statesman which endorsed Ted Cruz in the primary is now disturbed by some of the more outrageous claims he has made. Here is what their editors had to say:
We appreciate that he will never apologize for wanting to protect U.S. sovereignty, freedom and property rights, but when he sides with those who fear the United Nations will take away golf courses and roads, he's exploiting territory best left on the political fringes.
Almost every newspaper has taken exception to Cruz' assertion that we should abolish the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Education. There are good Texas reasons for this. Each of these benefits our state in important ways. The Department of Commerce supports the National Weather Bureau. One has only to look at the headlines warning of the coming "Frankenstorm" to deduce that this is an essential service for our businesses, agricultural interests and our citizenry. The Department of Energy helped to develop the fracking technology for extracting natural gas that is making many Texans rich while providing others with the neat parlor trick of being able to set the running water from their faucets on fire. What's not to love? Then there's the 6 billion dollars that Texas would lose should we abolish the much maligned Dept. of Education. There goes early childhood development, college student loans and adult education and training services. Needless to say this gives one pause.
There are other, less obvious reasons why so many of Cruz' former supporters have jumped ship and they have to do with style.
The conservative-leaning Dallas Morning News put it this way:
Like many Texans, we have been concerned about the lack of civility in the public square. That's why we have advocated for greater respect in politics, as well as for leaders who can find solutions that amount to more than advancing their party's agenda.
Here, too, Sadler is more aligned with our priorities. His efforts are issues-based, solution-oriented and underpinned by coalition-building principles. Cruz, by contrast, campaigns by attack. As we wrote about the staunch conservative before the GOP primary:
He's more about fighting and defending and toppling than bringing people together, building coalitions or solving problems -- skills that lie at the heart of good governing." This newspaper is left with the feeling that he is pushing his personal star more than the star of Texas.
During the debates Paul Sadler pressed Mr. Cruz on some of his extreme positions prompting Mr Cruz to complain "You have called me crazy three times in the last few minutes." Mr. Sadler recalls this with a wistful smile saying, "There was a reason for that. Texans have a right to know what they are going to be embarrassed about if they send this guy to the Senate."
I think all of us can agree that it would be nice if in the spirit of Lloyd Bentsen and Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, we sent an experienced person who is moderate and reasoned to represent this state. This is what prompted many of the other endorsements.
The very conservative San Angelo Standard Times made their decision based on the good old common sense notion that having some legislative experience might come in handy in the U.S. Senate. Here is how they put it:
When lawmakers decided to tackle the complex issue of school funding, they tapped Sadler to lead the effort. He was so effective he was named to Texas Monthly magazine's 10 best legislators list four times. Cruz, by contrast, is former Texas solicitor general and by all accounts an accomplished litigator but has no legislative record.
So why have Texas Democrats passed up this opportunity to back a very qualified candidate in what could have, should have been a winnable race? When they faced a Republican candidate who is not qualified and clearly not engaged on the issues of importance to voters of every political persuasion? Because the common unwisdom is that no Democrat can win statewide office in Texas. We have to ask ourselves who is beating whom. Is it possible that we are defeating ourselves?
Paul Sadler is a smart guy and he did not enter this race as some sort of sacrifice to the greater good. He ran because he believed that he could win. I will leave you with his thoughts about the experience:
My opponent in this race was not Ted Cruz. I rightly determined that he was vulnerable on the issues and that Texas would come to see him as inexperienced and unreasonable. My opponent was our own party's disbelief that they could overcome the odds. Eight million people will vote in Texas this month. Three and a half million of them will vote for a democrat and they deserve the option of good leadership. If I had the backing and the financing to make my case we could have easily persuaded some of the others. I am a Texan through and through and I believe that there are plenty of good folks out there who are not so ideological that they cannot choose the best candidate no matter what party he represents. You just can't make me buy that.
In an ironic twist, Ted Cruz won the primary with funding from Jim DeMint and other Tea Party activists from out-of-state, while Paul Sadler's would-be donors sent their cash to candidates far and wide and gave little here. I am all for supporting our party on the national level. Texas Democrats need to know when to 'fold 'em' to be sure -- there are some battles that we cannot yet win -- but we also need to be able to recognize a good bet and Paul Sadler was and is a good bet. Sometimes common wisdom or not, we need to have the courage and the insight to go 'all in.'
A really big storm is heading New York's way. It's going to be the confluence of a garden-variety hurricane (these days, "garden-variety" means unseasonable and oversized) with two other unseasonably large storms that will happen to end up in the same place at the same time, from different directions. The results, by all accounts, are likely to be spectacular.
Kids naturally like big storms, as well as disruptions to daily life. There's the whole hustle and bustle of stocking up on water and candles, and maybe the boarding up of windows so your house feels like a fort. You might get to take off school, and your parents might stay home -- such opportunities can be rare what with middle-class leisure time at an all-time low (two thirds what it was before Reagan!). Once the storm comes, it can be pretty fun to watch. Plus there's the excitement of unpredictable minor dangers -- flooding, falling trees, stuff flying off buildings.
Unfortunately, some things can get in the way of the fun, excitement, and group bonding experiences. So here are a few guidelines to making sure you and your parents enjoy the big storm, as well as the many more likely to be coming your way by the time you're grown up.
Unfortunately, as soon as a monster storm comes heading our way, you'll hear people talk about "climate change." That can totally ruin the fun, because climate change also means: crop failures, droughts, rising food prices, famines, conflicts, and insect-borne diseases migrating to where there's no resistance. Those things in turn mean the deaths of 1000 children like you every day, and warnings from the UN that last summer's crazy temperature records could end up hurting tens of millions of people in the coming months. So don't listen to the UN, or to scientists, or to anything other than the weather channel, network television, or the pronouncements of the president and his challenger. Knowing that the cool storm you're in the midst of is part of a pattern of global mass murder can be a big bummer.
If you're reading this, chances are you live in the US or maybe Europe. Stay put. You'll be fine -- probably (see below). Certainly don't consider going to live in Bangladesh, or the middle of Africa, or any number of other extremely endangered places that also happen to be the world's poorest. Your parents weren't thinking of getting a second home in Bangladesh? Great! The mosquitos are terrible anyhow.
Again, if you're in the US or Europe, you're probably ok. There probably won't be any life-wrecking catastrophes in the years before you're kicked out of the coop. But probably isn't certainly. The fact is, scientists just don't know. For example, the loss of Arctic sea ice is completely outstripping the worst-case predictions of scientists' climate models. Also, scientists have only catalogued some of the ways our unprecedentedly carbon-rich atmosphere could react to the situation, mostly based on samples of ice from hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago. So it's safest to be ready to move at a moment's notice.
These are a few ways to keep cheerful about your Hurricane Sandy experience. Even if your parents tell you to stay away from the windows, go ahead and take a peek. This thing won't hurt you. Probably. Yet.
Note to parents: if you're concerned about weather-related damage to your progeny, please consider helping us with our new film and "Action Switchboard" at www.theyesmenarerevolting.com.
Planning for a possible Romney presidency is well underway with a transition office open in Washington and the FBI doing background checks on likely appointees. House Republican leaders regularly convene “two scenarios meetings” to calibrate “the tone and tenor” of their response depending on the election outcome. “One thing we don’t know,” says a Republican leadership aide, “is whether a victorious Romney-elect transition would say ‘clear the decks, this is your...
The editor-in-chief of the Des Moines Register published a pointed criticism of President Barack Obama Tuesday night for his campaign's refusal to go on the record when the president lobbied for the newspaper's presidential endorsement.
Obama spoke with members of the Register's editorial board by phone Tuesday morning, a conversation that editor Rick Green described in a blog post as "an insightful glimpse into the president’s vision for a second term." However, Green writes, "what we discussed was off the record. It was a condition, we were told, set by the White House."
Green describes the Register's negotiations with the Obama campaign as such:
[The conversation would be] a "personal call" to the Register’s publisher and editor, we were told. The specifics of the conversation could not be shared because it was off the record.
Of course, we immediately lobbied his campaign staff in Des Moines for a formal, on-the-record call. We were told it was not their decision; it came from the White House. We requested that the White House be asked to reverse course so whatever the president shared with us could be reviewed by voters and our readers.
No reason was given for the unusual condition of keeping it private.
Politico's Dylan Byers notes that "[w]hether the 'off-the-record' agreement extended to reporting on the call itself, which the editorial board has now done, was not clear.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Green writes, did agree to go on the record with the Register -- and even met with the editorial board in person during an Iowa campaign stop, which Obama declined to do. "Despite at least 28 campaign stops and 11 days in our state, we never could convince his team to carve out a few moments for our editorial board."
An audio recording of Romney's conversation with the editorial board was posted online on Oct. 9.
Green included on his blog post a portion of a letter he sent to the Obama campaign's Iowa branch, which reads:
Thanks for making today’s call happen. It was very beneficial, informative and wide-ranging. I appreciate the hurdles that needed to be cleared. ...
One note of feedback for you and the Obama Team: It should have been on the record. You would have wanted this 30-minute conversation to be shared with the rest of Iowa. I understand all the worries, the fears and potential implications. … I know how one slip-up could lead to a (news) cycle-changing ‘gotcha.’ But you and I both know Iowa is coming down to the wire and the polls are incredibly close.
What the President shared with us this morning -- and the manner, depth and quality of his presentation -– would have been well-received by not only his base, but also undecideds. From a voter standpoint, keeping it off the record was a disservice.
Green did emphasize that the slight would play no role in the editorial board's ultimate endorsement decision. "That would be petty and ridiculous," he wrote. "We take far too seriously what’s at stake this election and what our endorsement should say."
This isn't the first time the Obama campaign has run afoul of the press this election cycle. In August, the president took heat when members of the White House press corps -- including ABC News' Jake Tapper and NBC News' Andrea Mitchell -- complained that the he had avoided formal answers to reporters' questions for more than two months.
The Register, which endorsed Obama in 2008, plans to unveil its 2012 endorsement on its website Saturday evening.