The Legacy of Sandy Hook: An Unprecedented Opening for Change

The wholesale slaughter of children sparked an unprecedented opening for change in this country. Killing children broke something fundamental in our culture. On that sad day, it felt as if there was a giant ripping in our society — yielding a gaping hole in all that was sacred and right. It was like watching the Twin Towers collapse all over again, but now it was our children. Many have asked if we have waited too long for action, the answer is simply no. Babies and guns do not belong in the same sentence. Assault weapons must never again be used to kill children.

It’s that opening – the gaping wound — that is inspiring our President Obama and Vice President Biden. This unlikely duo appear to be fueled by the fire of what is possible, and are driving a Mack truck through this opening right now — whether it is to push through the broadest gun safety legislation; or enact comprehensive immigration reform; or to raise the minimum wage; or end violence toward women; or to support gay marriage.

Watching our President Obama the evening of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School – it was clear that he would leap tall buildings to save the children and people of this country. It had become a Holy Crusade and compromise is off the table. Witness the fervor with which this team is working to move their Cabinet nominations forward even for beleaguered Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. Republican shenanigans are not being tolerated even on their home turf, the House of Representatives. These folks can rant and rave for the cameras (and they do), but are falling flat with no run way. The President’s approval ratings are soaring even in the shadow of the latest, manufactured financial machination of the ‘sequester.’ And it is this fundamental lack of empathy and understanding that may be the down fall of the Republican Party as we know it today.

Frankly, the President is done turning himself into a human pretzel and for this we must rejoice. You just can’t compromise with folks that hate you and all that you stand for. It’s a travesty that it took this horrific loss of lives in Sandy Hook to galvanize the American people – but it did. Unbelievably, today one child still “dies every three hours from gun violence in the United States.” Everyone knows that gun safety legislation is not about the Second Amendment, but rather about sustaining a modern civilization.

The winds of change are upon us. Just witness the President’s news conference today on the impasse over what is called sequestration. He’s not backing down.

 

The Most Important Thing The President Said About The Republican Budget

The most important thing the President said about the Republican Budget in his big speech Tuesday was when he described just some of the damage it does, and said, “This is not an exaggeration. Check it out yourself.” Seriously, do that, and see if you can get your friends, relatives and especially your right-wing bother-in-law to do it, too. Seriously.
Republicans Counting On “Low-Information” Voters
The secret of the Republican technique is that they count on lots of people being tuned out, apathetic and largely uninformed. They put up a lot of misinformation and smoke and mirrors and diversion and distraction, often claiming that what they are doing is the opposite of what they are doing, to trick people into accepting what they are doing, or at least not getting involved and working to stop them. And then they go ahead with their hidden agenda, usually involving handing over tax cuts, public money or property, favors, contracts, deregulation, get-out-of-jail cards, etc., to the highest-bidding contributor, or the company/lobbyist/etc. promising the most lucrative “jobs” or “speaking fees” etc., after government service is completed…
Another technique is accusing the other side of doing what they themselves are doing, as “cover.” (It’s called inoculation.) They won the majority in the House by running ads telling seniors that Democrats had cut $500 billion from Medicare, and a majority of seniors voted Republican for the first time. It was enough to swing control of the House. Now in office they are not just cutting Medicare, they are privatizing Medicare, phasing it out for those now under 55.
(Update: See: Romney Accuses Obama Of Taking ‘A Series Of Steps That End Medicare As We Know It’)
They are using another inoculation tactic to mask what they are doing, confusing people by portraying Obama as extreme and divisive for saying the Republican budget is extreme. Really, if you try to explain to regular people what is in this Republican budget, they will think you are an insane extremist for saying such things! (See Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room?)
Don’t Trust Me – Find Out For Yourself
The antidote is to get informed. Do not just trust what I write here, go find out for yourself what the Republicans have voted to do. Go visit several news sources and learn about this Republican budget. I’m not going to tell you where to go (except that FOX is not a news source.) Make an effort. Use the Google. And this is what you will learn:
They really are privatizing Medicare.
They really are claiming to “cut deficits” but extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, costing $4.6 trillion.
They really are cutting taxes on the rich by another $4.6 trillion!
They really are giving millionaires an average $187,000 tax cut.
They really are dramatically cutting corporate taxes.
They really are denying health insurance to up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions.
They really are dramatically cutting Medicaid by as much as 75%, with as many as 27 million people losing coverage.
They really are cutting 1,311 federal agents immediately from the Dept of Justice and another 4,587 agents each year over the next decade.
The cuts really do cost 4.1 million jobs.
They really are cutting 700,000 pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children off the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (WIC) program and another 1.8 million women, infants, and children off each year for the next 10 years.
They really are cutting 60,000 children out of Head Start immediately, and another 200,000 a year out each year for a decade.
And those are just some of the cuts. Food inspectors, work safety inspectors, education, infrastructure, police, courts, environmental protection …
They really are counting on most of the the public to stay distracted, apathetic and largely uninformed. YOU can help do something about that. Learn the facts and spread the word.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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President’s Plan: First Step Toward A Win-Win

President Obama has taken a step in the right direction with his speech and jobs plan. It was a small step – but it has to be to present Republicans with the choice to cooperate or get pushed out of the way. If this passes it is a win for jobs and the economy — and therefore the President’s re-election. If Republicans block it, the President wins because voters will push Republicans out and the country will be able to get moving again. But it all depends on follow-through. The President has to keep out there, pounding on this and only this every single day until there is a vote. Every. Single. Day. That is the key.
The Plan – Barely Enough
The American Jobs Act is a mix of extensions of current efforts and new tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Extend and add to the Social Security tax cut. Cut various taxes for hiring new workers and returning veterans. Money to states to prevent laying off even more teachers. Modernize schools to hire construction workers. The total including tax cuts is around $450 billion.
If passed this will help and people will be able to feel the difference. It isn’t enough, but there is a reason for that. It is small in order to keep Republicans from having any excuse to block it.
The Republican Choice
It has become pretty clear that Republicans are blocking … everything … in order to keep the economy from getting better, because doing this hurts the President’s re-election chances. So the President is giving them a package they have to vote for, or explain why not. This is a win-win because passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed. And not passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed because it exposes exactly who is behind the lack of progress in Washington that everyone is so upset about.
Full Engagement
The President has to be fully engaged on this one. A few words are not going to win it. The only thing that will win this is for the President to use the “bully pulpit” and be speaking about it every single day until there is a vote. Nothing else will do. This is all up to him now. He has taken the first small step toward pulling us all out of the mess we have been in. He has to recognize that it was only a small step and there is a big, big fight in front of him, and that he has to be fully engaged on this every single day until there is a vote.
Every. Single. Day. Until. There. Is. A. Vote. Nothing else will do. If the President does this we win and that means he wins.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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President Obama, Make Congress Stay In DC Until They Pass Jobs Legislation

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The Constitution of the United States, Article II, Section 3: “He may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them…
We have a jobs emergency and the Congress has not acted. Almost everything the Senate does is being blocked by an obstructionist minority that is trying to tank the economy, hoping a demoralized public will blame the other party and won’t bother to vote, which will help them take power in November.
The government is not governing and the consequences for working (and out-of-work) people are severe. Millions of unemployed are not finding jobs. People can’t pay their mortgages or rent and are losing their health care. Small businesses are reaching the end of their ability to hold out. Communities, even whole states are out of money to cover even basic services.
The President has the the power to do something about this. He has the power to show the public where he and his party really stand on doing something about the jobs crisis. He has the power to show that he can put his foot down and demand action.
The Congress is planning to go on recess in August and the President has the power to make them stay until robust jobs legislation is passed.
This is an opportunity to apply pressure to get badly-needed job creation and further stimulus underway. This is an opportunity to show the public who is acting and who is blocking. This is an opportunity to clarify for the voters who is working to get jobs going and who is keeping the Congress from acting.
The President has the opportunity to lead. He has the opportunity and the responsibility to govern.
This is an emergency. Make them stay.
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Against All Odds: Save the Middle Class and the American Dream

The American Dream is what is at stake for the Obama Administration, and they know it. This is the dirty, little secret that can longer be contained — it is escalating, cannot remain hidden, and may have significant political ramifications for the 2010 elections. The atrocity of the past years is this broken promise with the people, and it is deeply affecting the way they think, behave, vote and live. Moreover, it could begin to explain the groundswell response to candidate Barack Obama in 2008. The power of his words helped them believe that the dream was recoverable. He exemplified what was possible through education and hard work in his meteoric rise through American politics to the Oval Office. Further and more importantly, it also explains why we are now suffering such profound political despair reflected in the dropping poll numbers.
The middle class, for its survival, needs life to return to a semblance of “normalcy” – a time when they didn’t know how to spell the word “deficit” and didn’t have to care. They want their retirement savings back so they don’t have to work until they drop. They want a bank account that makes more then one percent interest. They want to know what their health insurance premiums will be this year and in ten. They want to know if their kids study, and if they save and sacrifice, that their lives will be better. They want their kids to get good jobs, and they want to hold onto our own jobs. And with despair and anger they realize that despite the heroic work of the Congress with this President in passing landmark legislation in all of these areas — they still are not safe. Economic ruin may still be right around the corner, and makes it hard to sleep at night.
You know we’ve all been hoodwinked and sold a bill of goods about the sanctity of the middle class in this country. It is a basic tenet of our lives, and made us different from other countries. The ranks swelled over the last decades after FDR to the present. But now for the first time since the Great Depression, the middle class is at risk of tipping over once and for all. They are not coming out of the financial, housing and environmental crises intact. Interest rates have ratcheted up on the family home, maybe there’s a balloon payment on the mortgage and its impossible to refinance under the “new” programs; savings have virtually no interest and are drying up; pensions have evaporated; health insurance premiums are basically unaffordable until 2014 if then; schools are overcrowded and on the decline; there are no jobs except in China and they don’t speak Mandarin; and unemployment is still at 9.5% — higher in key areas throughout the country. The new legislation is riddled with loopholes, as all legislation can be after laborious compromises and extensive details. What is different is that each of these loopholes is flagrantly being exploited by the banks, the credit card companies and the health insurance companies. For example, many of the unemployed cannot qualify for COBRA because their companies failed which is code for closed their doors. COBRA is not available when a company terminates their health insurance plan, and 2014 is a long way off when you need health insurance coverage now.
Frankly, this is not what the middle class signed up for. It was not part of the implicit promise made to them. As a result, they are angry (enter stage right the Tea Party to exploit this vulnerability), and depressed (evidenced in the lackluster June election voter turnout). This is a deadly combination that could seal the deal on the November elections for the big, bad guys. Yet somehow the middle class and its Democrats must rally again and rise above the collective depression (no pun intended). We cannot let the brilliant and effective message machine of the Republican Party lull them into universal amnesia — forgetting all the wrongs of the past. Remember these are the same guys (Bush and Cheney) that put the nails in the coffin cementing the potential extermination of the middle class. These same guys two weeks ago even blocked the extension of unemployment benefits while they frolicked on vacation. How could they do that to working families in this country? The extension passed the House before the break, but was filibustered in the Senate. And given all that, imagine life when we essentially give away the House because we are too depressed to vote or disorganized to keep these seats.
I will take liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi any day over anti-choice, sanctimonious Republican Representative John Boehner as Speaker of the House. That would be a bad dream that just keeps on giving. This threat should be enough for the White House to saddle up and come out with a plan, a message (remember “hope and change”), and leadership to deliver – not the White House Press Secretary Gibbs message yesterday. David Gregory of Meet the Press has gotten so very good and Gibbs just walked into a fiasco announcing the potential lose of seats in the House. It was as bad as giving away candy instead of feeding the homeless, and maybe that’s why White House Special Advisor, David Axelrod, was so snarky with CNN’s Candy Crowley during the next hour on the Sunday morning political shows because it sure didn’t make any sense.
Snarky or not, we all know Obama and his team are awful busy with the economy, the oil spill and a few dozen Russian spies, but we need them to reach out to that disenfranchised middle class again, aka big voting block. After all, Obama is the master communicator and we know that he can do it because he has done it before to win in 2008. And now the stakes may even be higher. If we allow 40 seats in the House to go asunder and a few more in the US Senate — we can start waving bye-bye to the American Dream, the middle class, economic recovery, and maybe the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades.
Please see my Pearltree for some of the reference materials with more to come. This is a new tool to organize and share materials on the web. In full disclosure, I advise them as they build out the new features of this platform.
Middlle Class
Note, an earlier version of this article appeared this week on the Huffington Post.

Conservatives Caused Huge Deficits, Blame Obama

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Headline at Drudge Report: Obama policies projected to add $9.7 trillion to debt by 2020… points to this story, National debt to be higher than White House forecast, CBO says,

President Obama’s proposed budget would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. Proposed tax cuts for the middle class account for nearly a third of that shortfall.

So here is the deal. This Drudge headline, saying Obama’s spending “adds to the deficit” is a trick. Here is how it works. Suppose you take over a company that is losing $100 million a year, and your jobs is to turn it around. So perhaps the second year the company only loses $70 million, $30 million the third year, and breaks even in year four. You saved the company. But in those years the company “lost” another $100 million. Should you be fired?
President Obama took office as President of a country with a $1.4 trillion deficit – thanks to the failure of conservative policies. Their tax cuts, wars, military buildups, corruption and incompetence drove the borrowing WAY up, and then their deregulation, corruption and incompetence destroyed the economy, driving the borrowing up into the stratosphere.
If the borrowing just stayed the same at the $1.4 trillion level Obama inherited each year — never mind that interest on all that borrowing gets higher and higher each year — that would mean $14 trillion would be added to the deficit by 2020. That’s a LOT more than the $9.7 trillion that Drudge and the conservatives are making so much noise about. Obama is dramatically reducing the borrowing, but they use trickery to make it look like he is causing it.
What about that $1.4 trillion deficit? That was the deficit for the 2009 budget year. Conservatives say — over and over — that Obama “tripled the deficit” in 2009. This isn’t even a trick, it is just a lie. The final Bush budget year ended with a deficit of $1.4 trillion. Conservatives have been telling the public this was an “Obama Deficit” and use graphics and charts that label this last Bush budget as Obama’s. Look at that chart, and then look at this. The first chart is nothing more than a lie, of course repeated endlessly.
But what else should you expect? Like the scorpion that stings the frog as the frog ferries it across the river, it’s what they do. They screw things up, and then point the finger of blame at everyone else.

Taking On The Lobbyists – President’s Weekly Address

After a month in office President Obama talks about his upcoming budget, and the battle ahead. “It also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington.”
This is a big deal. Watch this weekly radio address:

Here is a call to action: Get friends and family to watch this and future Presidential weekly addresses, and ask them to get their friends and family to do so as well.
Transcript, from the Whitehouse.gov blog:

Continue reading

Obama Campaign Asks Special Prosecutor To Look Into DOJ/McCain Campaign Collusion On ACORN Charges

The Obama campaign today sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking that he expand the scope of the ongoing investigation into Justice Department politicization to “include a review of any involvement by the Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

Briefly, the DOJ politicization scandal stems from Republican efforts to conduct partisan vote fraud investigations before the 2006 election. Prosecutors who refused were fired, prosecutors who played along were not fired (and are still there). After an outcry and the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales the new Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, appointed a special prosecutor to look into the politicization. The current vote fraud accusations and accompanying Justice Department, FBI and White House involvement follow the same pattern, and are based on no credible evidence, so the Obama campaign believes that it may be related to the ongoing partisan politicization of the government’s law enforcement.

More coming…

Update - Ari Melber at The Washington Independent has more,

Citing an “unholy alliance” between Republican operatives and potentially illegal conduct by law enforcement targeting voter fraud, the Obama campaign demanded Friday that the U.S. special prosecutor looking into the U.S. attorney scandal investigate the matter.
General counsel Bob Bauer sent a letter to Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey charging that coordinated “misconduct” by McCain campaign representatives and GOP officials were relevant to the special prosecutor’s work, because the activities may relate to the dismissal of seven U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The letter requests that the special prosecutor’s inquiry “include a review of any involvement by Justice Dept. and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign [and RNC's] systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud.”

A Tie — And A Choice

I think both John McCain and Barack Obama did well representing their positions and showing what they would be like as President. So on that I would score this as a tie. (I also want to say that McCain did well yesterday when I saw him in person at the Clinton Global Initiative. In fact it was the best I have seen him in a very long time, not the clown we have been seeing this year.)
But I think that by doing this they have offered the American people a clear choice. They contrasted their philosophies very well. For example, McCain argued his position of tax cuts for corporations while Obama argued his position of bottom-up economic growth.
I think there is on more factor here. They also both offered stories. McCain offers the past. Obama offers the future. That is the clear story that was told here.