Monday, August 15, 2011

Last Call

President Obama does some serious jujitsu on the Tea Party by owning their favorite epithet.

Since Barack Obama first came to office with plans to reform the country's healthcare system, conservative critics have derogatorily branded his policies as "Obamacare."

Speaking today in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, the President pushed back by embracing the term.
"I have no problem with folks saying 'Obama cares'," he told the crowd. "I do care."

The President devoted much of his time to discussing one of the key components of the legislation: the so-called "individual mandate" which would require most people to purchase some form of health insurance.

Obama slammed his Republican critics, and in particular the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, for having backed away from what was once their own idea.

"This used to be a Republican policy," he told the audience. "Suddenly it's like they've got amnesia." Then, in a mocking tone he mimicked his critics: "Oh, this is terrible! This is going to take away our freedom!"

Yes, this is clearly part of the White House's "Go after Romney early" strategy.  And yes, I am more than a little miffed that the President wasn't making this exact statement a year ago.  But the President is at least getting out there into the crowds and fighting for his legislative record, not running away from it.  He's going to have to do that in order to win.

More importantly the President is talking to people outside Washington DC, which is good.  Apparently, the only place in the country where people think the economy is getting better right now?  Washington DC.  Literally.  Every other state in the nation thinks the economy is getting significantly worse.

We'll see how the rest of his trip turns out, but more of this, please.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il

I've been saying Rick Perry wouldn't run because the opposition research on him is just too easy.  He's decided to go for it anyway, which means America is about to get introduced to Perry's decade-plus record of 3 AM phone call failures.  First up:  Perry on vaccines.

Rick Perry's officially joined the cast of the 2012 Republican primary, which means it's time for national audiences to start reading up on his decade-plus tenure as Texas' longest serving governor. One word you're going to be hearing a lot about in the early running: Gardasil.

As in Gardasil, the vaccine developed several years ago to treat against HPV, a virus that can eventually lead to cervical cancer. An effort to introduce the drug into Texas schools turned into one of Perry's greatest defeats, an exceptional episode in that it pitted the governor, renowned for his ability to closely read his base, strongly against the religious right.

"He's pretty clearly a social conservative in the Michele Bachmann camp, but you just can't nail him down all of the time," Bob Stein, a professor of political science at Rice University, told TPM. "He will surprise you."

Texas conservatives screamed bloody murder at helping to protect women from cancer and using taxpayer dollars to do it, saying Perry was "usurping parental rights".  Meanwhile, Texas liberals were pissed off that Perry's former chief of staff did lobbying work for Merck, the manufacturer of Gardasil.   Perry's executive order went down as a total disaster.

In the end state lawmakers forced Perry's hand, passing a law overturning his decision with veto-proof majorities in both chambers. Perry acknowledged defeat and announced he would withdraw his efforts to implement the policy, but went down in spectacularly defiant form, lashing out at members of his own party. At a press conference, he played a video message from a 31-year old cervical cancer patient hooked to an oxygen tube, who was too sick to testify earlier at the statehouse.

"I challenge legislators to look these women in the eyes and tell them, `We could have prevented this disease for your daughters and granddaughters, but we just didn't have the gumption to address all the misguided and misleading political rhetoric,'" Perry said.

The episode has lingered in Texas politics. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) attacked Perry for "cronyism" on the vaccine issue in her 2010 primary challenge of the governor and an independent anti-Perry group aired ads as well.

The question now is whether the issue will gain traction again as national Republicans absorb Perry's record. There are some rumblings of discontent so far: a coalition of New Hampshire Tea Party groups recently published a blog post condemning Perry's "attack on parental rights." 

And that's just one of the many giant red X's on Perry's record.  One can't help but be reminded of another Texas governor who ran for the White House and did whatever he thought was right, the rest of the world -- and the consequences -- be damned.

It's just too easy.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

David Kurtz on T-Paw's departure (emphasis mine):

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty could not survive a poor third-place showing in the Ames straw pool or the entry of Texas Gov. Rick Perry into the race -- but if those were the immediate causes of his collapse, the root causes had been evident for quite some time: anemic fundraising, a weak campaigner, and a guy who couldn't throw enough red meat to GOP primary voters

Theory:  The Tea Party rid the GOP of T-Paw.  They claimed their third head this weekend, the first two being Mike Huckabee and Mitch Daniels.  They will not be the last.  The survivors are already shifting further to the right.  Whoever's left standing will be so far to the right that they cannot possibly win the general.

If we're going by positions, the next person on the list to go is Romney.  Now that Rick Perry is in the race, the moneyed interests may in fact dump the guy.  I'm not sure.

St. Louis High Band

O'FALLON, Ill. • Three high school students could face criminal charges after allegedly passing out brownies secretly laced with marijuana to 23 of their  classmates at a summer band camp last week.
Police say none of the students at O'Fallon Township High School experienced any ill-effects from the apparent pot brownie prank, but the Aug. 1 situation could have ended badly.
"Any time anybody is given drugs or something else without their knowledge that can obviously be a health hazard," O'Fallon police Sgt. Rob Schmidtke said. "We won't let this slide. It could have been a very big deal."
They knew something was wrong when the tuba carried the melody.   

The Face Of Misery

This is what death looks like.  While we squabble and most of us enjoy cool air, this is what others wake up to every day, without escape:

In the last 90 days 29,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation.  Miserable months eating just enough to stay alive, but not enough to feel good or like you ever have had enough.  Many of those children died without ever once feeling full or the luxury of a piece of fruit.  Cold milk doesn't exist for them.  There is no WIC or government help.  They are on their own, and another 640,000 kids are in the same boat.  We must help them.

Not only should we help them, but we should apply the lesson that is so clear.  We still have it good.  People are whining and the government is self-destructing, but most Americans have food to eat or a way to help if they got creative.  Some may be hungry but most have known decent meals throughout the years, and comforts like medicine and can expect a level of decency from fellow citizens.  We have air-conditioning and hair dryers.  There are billions of people who live and die without knowing any of the comforts we enjoy on a daily basis.  While we worry about Obamacare and how our elderly will be able to afford basic cable, billions die and suffer without ever seeing a doctor and 30 is old.

And In That Third War Of Ours...

Oh yes, Libya.  Remember them?

Libyan rebels raised their flag over a strategic town near Tripoli on Sunday after their most dramatic advance in months cut off Muammar Gaddafi's capital from its main link to the outside world.

The swift rebel advance on the town of Zawiyah, about 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, will deal a psychological blow to Gaddafi's supporters and severs the coastal highway to Tunisia that keeps the capital supplied with food and fuel.

There was no sign Tripoli was under immediate threat from a rebel attack: heavily armed pro-Gaddafi forces still lie between Zawiyah and the capital. Previous rebel advances have often been reversed, despite help from NATO warplanes.

But rebel forces are in their strongest position since the uprising against 41 years of Gaddafi's rule began in February. They now control the coast both east and west of Tripoli, while to the north is the Mediterranean and a NATO naval blockade and there is fighting to the south.

So that's the good news:  anti-Qaddafi rebels have now made significant progress and have fortified their positions, and have cut off key supply routes to help isolate Tripoli.  The bad news, with Qaddafi cornered and increasingly cut off, he may decide to do something crazy/stupid rather than lose gracefully.

Worse, the rebels might decide the risk of doing the same thing is worth it.  Still a lot of bad things that could happen here.

Bachmann Goes All Judge Mental

Michele Bachmann insisted on Meet The Press on Sunday that she "doesn't judge gays."  To his credit, Fluffy called her out with a clip, then she ignored it and pressed on anyway.

It's no secret Bachmann isn't the biggest fan of gays. But when Gregory played a clip of Bachmann saying homosexuality leads to "personal enslavement" and "bondage," she responded simply by saying "I am running for the presidency of the United States."

"I am not running to be anyone's judge," she added.

"But you have judged them," Gregory pressed.

"I don't judge them," Bachmann responded. "I don't judge them. I am running for the presidency of the United States."

Bachmann echoed her position that marriage should be between a man and a woman. But she said she "ascribes honor and dignity to every person, no matter their background." 

I guess she figures people "enslaved" by homosexuality have a...quiet...sort of dignity.  You know, like Rosa Parks did on the bus.  Best part?

"All these kinds of questions really aren't about what people are concerned about right now," Bachmann said. "I think my views are clear."

To recap, when Michele Bachmann says something bigoted, it's fine.  When someone calls her out on national TV about it, it's not what people are "concerned about right now" so it doesn't matter, see how this works?

Oh, and Michele Bachmann believes the LGBT community has such a quiet dignity that as President she would reinstate DADT because it "has worked very well".  Gee, sounds like she's passing collective judgment on people to me.

But you should be the judge of that.

Road Warrior Obama

The President will hit the road this week on a bus tour through the Midwest and the focus is jobs, jobs, jobs.

President Barack Obama hits the road on Monday for a Midwestern bus tour that he hopes will leave doubts over his leadership behind in Washington.

But the three-day trip through Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois -- three states seen as vital to his 2012 re-election campaign -- could put him in front of voters who, polls show, are furious about political gridlock in the U.S. capital.

Iowa, which launched Obama's historic journey to the White House in 2008, has recently been playing host to Republican presidential hopefuls who have aggressively slammed his record as they criss-cross the state.

The White House says the president is on listening tour to hear from Americans about the economy and to talk about how to boost jobs and hiring. There are no plans for a major policy speech to roll out new initiatives for growth.

What I'm hoping to hear from people in the Midwest is simple:  Hey Mr. President, we need you to fight for jobs, without them nothing else matters.  It's a good idea and good timing.  Let's have the focus of the tour not be on the President, but on the people.


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