Monthly Archives: October 2012

The stakes, cont’d

Another must-read from Bob Cesca:

This is the marquee election for the anti-choice movement. Anyone who can count and anyone who can look up the status of the Supreme Court justices knows full well that the next president will decide the fate of abortion rights and an entire array of issues.

Justice Scalia is 76 years old, Justice Breyer is 74 and Justice Ginsburg, well, she’s a 79-year-old cancer survivor. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the next president will appoint a justice to replace at least Ginsburg, if not both Ginsburg and Scalia. Reasonably speaking, Ginsburg is almost certain. If she retires or passes, and Mitt Romney appoints her successor, the ideological balance of the Bench will shift to five conservatives, one swing vote (Kennedy) and three liberals — more than enough to decide conservatively on a variety of critical issues. Even if Kennedy were to magically swing left on every decision, it still wouldn’t matter. Conservatives would win the day for an entire generation.

However, if President Obama is re-elected and he appoints Ginsburg’s successor, the balance remains the same as it is now: four conservatives, one swing vote and four liberals (presumably, Obama would appoint a justice with a liberal record). Better yet, if the president is re-elected and replaces both Ginsburg and Scalia, the Bench would be tipped to five liberals, one swing and three conservatives — for a generation.

So this isn’t just about replacing a justice or two. This is about replacing a justice or two and defining the ideological composition of the Court for the next 10-20 years.

[…] I sometimes wonder if everyone else, including many of us who follow these issues closely, is aware of the potential human cost amid the ongoing horserace drama of the political campaign. These are our daughters, mothers, wives, sweethearts, partners and business associates, and I worry that too many voters are unaware that more than half of all Americans are being slowly and deliberately suffocated of their rights and physically targeted by their leadership simply because they have two X chromosomes. This election is the hinge upon which those rights hang in the balance. It might be the most important election of our lives so far, and not because of some relatively disassociated issue thousands of miles away, but because it will determine whether women — American women — will retain purview over their own bodies.

Cesca makes many more salient points and the whole piece is worth reading here.

(Photo via Associated Press)

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Brilliant. Just bloody brilliant.

And here’s a harrowing video showing the advanced stages of this condition:

10/23 Update: It’s becoming clearer and clearer that this is not just a humorous but a very potent line of attack. And after the President’s killer debate performance last night (“horses and bayonets” — fantastic!), it’s more lethal than ever:

Obama, turning serious, saves the best point for last: all joking aside, this is all about trust. After Mitt Romney has taken all conceivable positions on every conceivable issue, I find it utterly impossible to believe anything the man says. (Unless, perhaps, it’s what he says candidly to a group of peers behind closed doors.) Moderate swing voters who ignore Romney’s shapeshifting, and who feel confident they know what his true priorities are, may yet elect this walking question mark to the presidency. But they do so at their peril, and the nation’s.

(via DailyKos)

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Game on

Did the President take notes?

Yes. Yes he did. Bravo, Mr. President.

A key exchange on Libya, that shines a clear light on the difference between a political weasel and a Commander-in-Chief:

Transcript of the entire debate here.

I have no idea if this will be enough to win Obama the election. But he’s made the best case for his presidency and for a second term that I could have hoped for.

Also: Mitt Romney claims, in the space of 90 minutes, both that he would create 12 million new jobs as president, and that government doesn’t create jobs? He can’t even make up his mind about which side he’s on in the same debate. It’s absolutely indicative of his willingness to say anything to win, regardless of whether it’s consistent with positions he’s taken in the past — even as recently as a few minutes ago. And if you can’t tell what he stands for now, how can you know what he’ll stand for if he wins the White House? I smell a potent Democratic attack ad right there.

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The stakes

Bob Cesca spells them out:

[I]f the president loses the second debate as badly as the first and, subsequently, isn’t able to recover enough ground to win the election, it will be seen as a major loss for Keynesian economic policy, not to mention government intervention in health care, Wall Street regulation, student loans, climate, energy and so much more. In spite of his record of successes, the president will likely be viewed as a failure — for reasons that confound logic. After all, if the president loses, he will have ended his presidency will deficit that’s hundreds of billions of dollars lower than when he took office, he will have saved senior citizens $4 billion in health care costs, he will have extended the solvency of Medicare to 2024, he will have rescued the economy from a global financial crisis, he will have created 5 million jobs in the wake of that crisis, he will have rescued and reinvigorated the American auto industry, he will have cut unemployment and he will have presided over a near-doubling of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Worse yet, all of the legislation that made a lot of these successes possible will be repealed by Mitt Romney.

Furthermore, the effort to eradicate the Reaganomics virus that’s infected our politics for more than 30 years will be stopped cold. It isn’t often discussed among hipster liberals who myopically see Obama as a centrist or even a moderate Republican, but for the first time in more than a generation, the president has made repeated cases for the positive role of government. Gradually throughout his first term, the president has worked this pitch for the restoration of government as a force for good into major addresses, many of which were prime time joint session addresses to Congress. Within this pitch, the president has made effective cases against tax cuts for the super-rich as well cases against de-regulatory policies that have resulted in health insurance abuses, corporate out-sourcing and the nefarious Wall Street noodling that sparked the Great Recession. It’s a far cry from the “era of big government is over” talk from Bill Clinton or the “government is the problem” mantra from Ronald Reagan.

With an Obama loss, it’s very unlikely another Democrat in the near future will be able to successfully pick up the same goals and be victorious while doing so. And there’s always a chance that the recovery will continue into a Romney presidency — at least for a while — and the conventional wisdom would divorce such a success from the policies that made it happen. Romney would get the credit. For example, the CBO projects that 12 million jobs will be created in the next four years. Romney will take credit for that — in fact, he already is by saying that he’ll create 12 million jobs. Those jobs will be created anyway due to the fact that the economy was pulled back from the brink and continues to recover. Essentially, the failed supply-side, trickle-down, de-regulatory, anti-government economic plan being pitched by Mitt Romney will be unfairly and inaccurately viewed as a successful one.

And perhaps the most devastating outcome: the Supreme Court will become solidly conservative for another generation. It’ll be a tragic turn events for women, campaign finance, net neutrality and so forth. The consequences of Romney appointing a sixth or seventh conservative justice on the Bench are almost too harrowing to imagine.

Read the rest here.

My previous thoughts on why government matters — and why I support the case the president makes for it — here.

(Image via The Sietch Blog)

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For all humanity

A remix of Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator that brought tears to my eyes:

One quibble: In juxtaposing images of both Republican and Democratic leaders as Chaplin is railing against dictators and oppressors of mankind, the video seems to suggest that all politicians are alike. Not even remotely true. And it’s that kind of blanket statement that makes people give up on the electoral process — which inevitably means that those they disagree with who are politically engaged are the ones who carry the day.

If you want to make the world better, make your voice heard — not just in the streets, but at the ballot box. The street is for the (necessary and powerful) primal cry. It’s for the tearing down of systems. But to build up and reform systems, you need politics, with all its messiness and compromise. Don’t wash your hands of it. Plunge in, and work your hands into the dirt, and make something good grow.

(via Brain Pickings)

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There is nothing more awesome than this. NOTHING.

Rarely does a video make me literally shout for joy. At 1:10 and 2:38, this one did.

That’s the Flyboard from Zapata Racing, and I WANT ONE.

Their official video, with more astounding jetpack/dolphin action (if anyone can translate the French, it’s much appreciated!):

More footage here.


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How to destroy your debate opponent

In the wake of President Obama’s inexplicably and inexcusably feckless debate performance against Mitt Romney last week, I’ve been jonesing for footage of warrior politicians able to make the Democratic case with style, with substance, with spines of steel, and with devastating effect. I haven’t been disappointed; in addition to my go-to clips from the always-brilliant West Wing, this political season has offered up some fierce and feisty real-life orators that Obama would do well to learn from. Are you taking notes, Mr. President?

This is how you enter a debate, find your mojo, and take early command of the field:

This is how you show up your opponent’s magic hand-waving and lack of substance — and how you make an eloquent argument for nuance and detail without getting lost in the weeds of nuance and detail:

This is how you do get into the weeds — but with clarity and simplicity, with an unwavering focus on underlying principles and values, and with a constant eye on the big picture and what’s at stake:

And this is how you expose, cheerfully, your opponent’s shapeshifting:

Offering inspiration from overseas, this is how Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stands up for women and magnificently exposes misogyny and hypocrisy:

And this is how you stand up for women right here at home:

And finally, this is how you counter your opponent’s malarkey, make a forceful case for your core arguments, and fight for what you believe in with all your heart:

Mr. President, you’ve asked for passion and conviction from your supporters. You’ve asked us to believe in ourselves, to believe in the power of our concerted action, to believe in an American vision of fairness and compassion and community. But we need to believe in you as well. We need to believe that you’ll articulate and fight for that American vision with all the heart and fire and fearlessness with which you ask us to fight for it. You signed up to be the champion of our cause. We need to see you champion it.

The next debate’s coming up soon, Mr. President. Your move.

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