Reflecting on this past week, watching President Obama on the road in Cali and his weekly video address yesterday, I continue to feel that "this guy's got game". He is operating with great poise, a high-level of mental speed and agility, and an intense focus on big issues; that was glaringly absent during the last eight aggravating years of Bush II. Which brings me to some observations about Sen. Jim Webb, The US Marine Corps, and President Barack Obama.
File this one in the growing list of Obama actions which would, could never have been undertaken under the Bush Administration. A message of peace to the people of Iran.
It's been 50 days since Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States. I think it's as good a time as any to take stock in what he's accomplished so far.
I've found PolitiFact's Obameter to be a great tool for a quick glance at the progress Obama has made in regard to the promises he made on the campaign trail. The site keeps score on Obama as he progresses through his presidency, clearly showing the promises he's kept, what he's broken, and keeps tab on what's ongoing. I'll be checking this site throughout his time in office, and I hope you will too.
Of the 513 promises being tracked by PolitiFact, 87% haven't seen any action, and 8% are either stalled or in the works. Specific action has only been seen for about 5% of the his promises made that are being tracked. Since Obama has only completed 3% of his terms in office (yes, I'm counting on two, folks), I'd say he's moving along at a decent clip.
Of the 5% of his promises that have seen some action, 65% have clearly been kept. Another 27% have seen some sort of compromise, leaving 8% of promises broken.
cross posted from Daily Kos because I think it is of relevance everywhere
Eugene Robinson's column is actually entitled Bending the Trajectory Left. But as I read it I remember the options with which the Pentagon was wrestling with respect to Iraq, which were described in the three-fold way at the beginning of my title. If you have forgotten, you can read about the option here, and then remember the choice, the co-called "Surge", was to Go Long. In our arguments over the possible range of actions we believe Obama should take, many here have argued for going big - the stimulus should be much larger (I agree in principle) being the best exemplar.
Robinson suggests that Obama thinks not so much immediately (perhaps why he is not spooked by continued decline of stocks), and has no intention of doing things halfway (Go Home, with massive losses in the 2010 off-year elections). Nor is he seeking a temporary boost a la the surge. What other option is there? How about Bending Left?
No matter how the Nattering Nabobs of Negativity tried to say otherwise... the R2K/Daily Kos data says:
It was a Good Week for the Blue Team:
Obama Popular Momentum Grows, net up 3 points.
Congressional Dems, "goodwill rising" to 46% favorable
Not so much for the Red Team: Congressional GOPer's sag to 17% favorable, continuing the trend of more bad news for Team No Clue.
More on Bobby J's Big Adventure below the fold...
Last night, Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time as President.
Remarks of President Barack Obama -- Address to Joint Session of Congress
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Address to Joint Session of Congress
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:
I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.
I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.
But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:
We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.
Or so the huckster dull normals of talk radio pound out a message of innuendo designed to drive ratings and secure and build audience passion. But the evocative nature of these diatribes are less eloquent than provocative. They are not an appeal to the better character of our nation’s soul.
“How stands the Union?” allegedly the devil asked Daniel Webster. And the judge responded, “Rock bottomed and copper riveted.”…It ain’t no more. It is anything but. And there is a new captain at the helm.
So began retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Monday evening, addressing a filled Williamsburg library theater. Some 300 James City County and Williamsburg residents came to hear the William and Mary visiting professor and former Chief of Staff to Collin Powell. In an extemporaneous ninety minute dialogue, he set a tone that was at once alarming and reassuring; if that can be done. More will follow over the next few days, but a haunting sense will begin the synopsis. Wilkerson did not specifically express the sentiments standing at the beginning or the end of this post. He elicited them.
The rise of right-wing media has been a coordinated effort to ensure that out-of-the-mainstream opinions and viewpoints always have a place in the media landscape. The Heritage Foundation works to ensure that no writer ever has an excuse not to present the conservative viewpoint.
The principle of "balance", as in FOX News' Orwellian "Fair and Balanced" creed, is a nihlist effort to give voice to right-wing opinion even when at odds with truth, fact, or the support of the American people. Meanwhile, with the rare exception of the Brit-nerdy George Will, the overwhelming majority of right-wing columnists focus on a southern strategy hate-stoking demagoguery. From Rush, Coulter, Hannity and the Buchanan twins to Ronald Reagan during his pre-presidential run as a syndicated columnist the right creates a ditto-head nation of bigoted jabber through the support structure of a myriad of think tanks, funding mechanisms, and media outlets including print, radio, online, and broadcast.
The sum total of the billions of dollars and oceans of black ink invested in promoting the right-wing point of view, has been a rage-filled working class, whipped up by a crowd of ivy league elites making media millions. So, it's no mistake when one of the right wing's most vitriolic outlets, the New York Post prints a repugnant racist piece tailored to bring chuckles to the topic of the murder of our first African American president.
Rest assured, the right will not back away from promoting hate. It's their bread and butter. The right will not apologize. That would be interpreted by their own members as impotence, just as the rage of the right is interpreted as impotence by the wide mainstream of the American people.
Rising from the heart of an enduring Republican delusion, a Virginia Congressman, whip Eric Cantor has emerged as the heir to the hero of 1994, Newt Gingrich:
As Republican whip, Mr. Cantor succeeded again on Friday in denying the White House the support of a single House Republican on the stimulus bill. That was a calculated challenge to the president, who, in his weekly address on Saturday, hailed the bill as “an ambitious plan at a time we badly need it.”
Mr. Cantor said he had studied Mr. Gingrich’s years in power and had been in regular touch with him as he sought to help his party find the right tone and message. Indeed, one of Mr. Gingrich’s leading victories in unifying his caucus against Mr. Clinton’s package of tax increases to balance the budget in 1993 has been echoed in the events of the last few weeks.
“I talk to Newt on a regular basis because he was in the position that we are in: in the extreme minority,” he said.
Republicans dream that the first Obama years will mirror the first years of the Clinton administration, but they will live a nightmare with Eric Cantor apparently leading the way.
Source: Research 2000, Daily Kos
cross-posted at Star City Harbinger
Finally some new DATA I can cozy up to. I have really been missing the 2008 polling data dives.
You wouldn't know it from the major media jibber jabber, but new national polling data is showing that Americans remain generally supportive of President Obama, and strongly favor the efforts of the Democratic-controlled Congress over the folks across the aisle.
Mr. President, the survivors of the attack on the USS Cole and their families cry for two things. They demand those responsible for the attack suffer justice. They also have a right to an honest accounting for the failure to protect the ship. All of America’s parents deserve that.
There is this thing called a Force Protection Plan. One was required for the Cole’s port visit. At first, when these plans were required in earnest after the Khobar bombing, they were fairly effective. Over time they became boilerplate. There was one submitted and approved for the Cole’s refueling visit in Aden. It was not fully implemented during that port call. It can be argued that that provided the critical vulnerability that day. It can be argued that the attack might have been successful anyhow. But the dereliction is apparent. It is also embarrassing; swept away and some hope forgotten.
The battle for the Obama Recovery package rages on.
In a Washington Post op-ed, the President describes "The Actions Americans Need":
This plan is more than a prescription for short-term spending -- it's a strategy for America's long-term growth and opportunity in areas such as renewable energy, health care and education. And it's a strategy that will be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability, so Americans know where their tax dollars are going and how they are being spent.
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
CNN is reporting that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination to head the department of Health and Human Services. President Obama has accepted, "with sadness and regret".
There is no more pressing issue in American politics than reforming the Health Care system, and Tom Daschle's withdrawal is a devastating body blow to the White House effort.
[UPDATE: OK, I'm convinced.
The scandal over Daschle's lavish lifestyle and failure to pay taxes simply emphasized why the former Senate Majority Leader was exactly the wrong choice to serve in the administration of a Democratic president who aspires to make a break with the worst of the compromises that characterized his party during the Bush-Cheney era.
Good riddance. Daschle was such a failure in opposing Bush, there's no doubt he would have capitulated to Republicans on the substance of health care reform, and his tax scandal and lobbyist status would have undermined the President's ethics policies. Health Care reform will happen under this Obama administration, with or without Tom Daschle.
What a card! Bush Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, is one funny guy. In an interview, Card, had the temerity to condemn Barack Obama for his new, more casual dress code, claiming that the new president is bringing a "locker room experience" to the White House:
I found that Ronald Reagan and both President Bushes treated the Oval Office with tremendous respect. They treated the Office of the Presidency with tremendous respect. And some of that respect was reflected in how they expected people to behave, how they expected them to dress when they walked into the symbol of freedom for the world, the Oval Office. And yes, I’m disappointed to see the casual, laissez faire, short sleeves, no shirt and tie, no jacket, kind of locker room experience that seems to be taking place in this White House and the Oval Office.
For those among us who may have been asleep for the past eight years, the Bush Administration's crimes against the US Constitution are legion. These are the guys who believe there's only enough space in the Bill of Rights for one Amendment - the Second. The rest, everything from freedom of speech and religion to the right to fair trial, are optional when inconvenient.
Time was when a newly sworn in president got a real “honeymoon.” In recent times, however, George W. Bush is the only one of last three presidents (including our current one) who got one. Just as Bill Clinton before him, Barack Obama got less than 24 hours. There’s a different standard for Dems, you see. And both the so-called liberal media (SCLM) and the GOP are fast at work letting us know that any honeymoon request will be swiftly denied. But what is worse is that this is the same press which took a protracted hike during all but the last year of the Bush administration.
In another example of the remarkable leadership of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republicans in the US House of Representatives pushed for concessions from the Democratic majority and President Barack Obama. In response to this push, compromises were made in an effort to build bipartisan support for the economic recovery bill.
These compromises included cutting infrastructure investment by 10%, increasing tax cuts to $300 billion, as well as the now infamous contraceptive funding supported by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
What's so remarkable about Boehner's leadership isn't that these compromises were reached. House Republicans knew that President Obama was striving to bring both parties together to put together a bill that would be of best benefit the nation. Boehner had that card to play. The remarkable thing is how Republicans voted. In an incredible show of solidarity and "principle", Boehner and every member of his party effectively told President Obama, and the American people, that they can take their bipartisanship and shove it. Not one Republican voted in favor of the bill. The final vote tally was 244 in support, and 188 in opposition. One representative was unable to attend the vote, and eleven Democrats voted against the bill.
Eight years of Bush have left disaster, crisis, and dread in their wake, and sadly, Rush Limbaugh also remains.
Limbaugh, along with others of his bloviating ilk, Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly for example, are practitioners of the kind of bigoted, jingoistic, hate speech that masquerades as nationalism, but destroys nations. As democracies devolve into mob rule, strident voices claiming patriotism emerge to stoke the fires of fear into hate.
As the world's greatest Democracy, America can withstand those corrosive effects. The election of President Obama proves that point and underscores it. For hate to thrive, mistrust and hopelessness must prosper, and America is riding a generational tidal wave of hope. This week, the winds of change, towards hope and away from fear, blew away Rush Limbaugh's pretense of patriotism, and revealed his true nature as a demagogue and traitor to America.
It is clearly worth noting that despite the horror of eight years of Bush, through the ideologically-driven governmental incompetence, through the murderous lies, through the regulatory malfeasance which sunk the economy and brought the bedrock principles of capitalism itself into question, the drowning of a great city, failing to stop 9/11, the shredding of the constitution, torture, global warming denier fraud, ubiquitous poisoning of the food supply and so very much more... through all of the horrors, crimes, and failures of conservative hegemony, progressives never, never, never, sought presidential failure.
Bush seemed congenitally predisposed to failure and the "Worst. President. Ever." Nonetheless, he was the President and the fate of the nation depended on his ability to strengthen our nation. In his failure, America and all Americans suffered. In the face of all of our current challenges, each American's well-being is now even more closely tied to the success of the fledgling Obama administration.
Our opposition to Bush was always based on the pragmatic estimation of the ramifications of Bush Conservatism on the American people. We were proven correct. Neither all of the money in the world nor near total control of media messaging was able to cover the failures of conservatism. This fact continues to drive the likes of Limbaugh to distraction. In their distress, they reveal themselves to be dangerous, trickle-down class warriors. For them, it's all about the money. Power is for aristocrats, not for people; the American dream, working families and the future of the nation be damned.
Cross-Posted at Fred2Blue
I'll use any excuse I can to type the words "President Obama," but this really is important. I've been following this ever since I watched Lilly Ledbetter speak at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer.
Last week the U.S. Senate followed the House's example by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, 61-36. Every single Democrat in the Senate voted for the bill, along with Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter and all 4 Republican women; Murkowski, Hutchison, Snowe, and Collins.
Tomorrow, Lilly Ledbetter will be at President Obama's side when he signs it into law.