Worst President Ever!!!

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I have figured out the problem…

I became politically aware sometime around 1999-2000 and was paying attention to politics from 2000-2008 while the vast majority of my peers were soaked in a college-fueled beer haze. Therefore I remember what a real goddamned scandal looks like.

Being lied into two wars, the attempted privatization of social security, the crashing of the economy (thankfully we didn’t privatize social security) the gutting of our public schools, Abu Ghraib, falling asleep at the wheel in the months before 9.11, the shredding of the Bill of Rights and the expansion of the Security State (you think this NSA shit just started?) Skyrocketing college tuition, the gutting of our public sector (you know, nurses, firefighters, policeman, all those first responders Republicans claim to cherish)

All this happened under a Republican President.

Somehow, the majority of my Facebook friends either weren’t paying attention or are afflicted with a serious case of selective memory.

I could literally spend entire days just correcting the ridiculous shit I see posted on people’s pages.

“Obamacare is going to double premiums!”- False

“Obama wants to take our guns!!”- False

I literally could do this all day.

For those of us who were paying attention, this Presidency is a cake walk. Of course you would never know it if you listened to the Facebook crowd.

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And the Right Wins Again

I have to first apologize to Danielle, she was subjected to a prolonged rant on this very subject last night. But the more I think about this, the more it bothers me.

The right-wing in this country has won. They have won because they have become masters of pushing the conversation in their desired direction. Let me give a few examples.

In the early 2000’s, we had, and in many ways continue to have a debate over the methods of torture that our country engages in. The right-wing was able to push the conversation so far to the right, that we began, as a nation of laws to debate not whether we would engage in torture, but which methods we were OK with. The Right Won.

We see this same dynamic taking place with the debate over abortion. The United States Constitution, affirmed by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade, guarantees the right of choice. Regardless of your personal beliefs on abortion, the ultimate decision lies with the woman who is carrying the pregnancy.

What the right-wing has successfully done is push the conversation so far to the right, thanks to Todd “Legitimate Rape” Aiken, Richard “God intended for you to get pregnant, even if you were raped” Mourdock and Paul “It doesn’t matter how it happened, pregnant is pregnant” Ryan, we as a nation are talking about which/any exceptions (rape, incest and the health of the mother) are acceptable for a woman to seek an abortion. By framing the debate in a way that the discussion isn’t about a woman’s constitutional right to a safe abortion, but should we outlaw all abortions, or allow them only in certain cases.

There are at least 15 people running for the U.S. Senate this year who would seek to make it illegal for a woman to abort a pregnancy, regardless of the manner in which she became pregnant. My problem, and the purpose of this post is to point out the success of the right win in framing the debate on these topics.

A separate, and equally important aspect of this debate is the hypocrisy of the right-wing as it relates to the role of government in our lives. The right-wing position on the role of government requires an incredible feat of mental gymnastics. Republicans would simultaneously seek to shrink the role of government in regulating the economy (the exact thing that led us to the brink of complete financial collapse in 2008) and growing the role of government in regulating what takes place in a woman’s uterus. The party of personal freedom and individual responsibility would seek to take the choice out of the hands of the individual in place it in the hands of the government. In what universe does this make sense?

I went off so loudly and forcefully on this subject yesterday that this post feels like a cheap carbon copy of what I had to say. I edited my thoughts intentionally. I am not seeking to debate whether a woman should or should not have the right to choose, I am not that stupid. There are two points to this post, and neither of them is to argue the right of women to choose.

Point one is that the right-wing has mastered the art of pushing the debate so far to the right that what we ultimately end up debating is something that initially would have seemed unthinkable.

Point two is the hypocrisy of “small-government” Republicans.

When Danielle and I talked about this yesterday, it is safe to say I went on a rant. I am glad I didn’t write then what I said.

This morning, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said it far better than I ever could.

The First Presidential Debate

I am not going to go into a long explanation about my feelings concerning the two candidates. Use the archives.

I will admit that in the minutes after the debate, I felt exactly as Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz did. I felt as if the President should have more aggressively defended his policies as well as attack Romney on both his previous statements and lies as well as the ones  he was saying last night.

When Mitt Romney made a statement that was patently false, which he did more times than I could count last night, the President flashed that awesome smile of his and moved on. What he was banking on, I think, is that American people to be smart enough to know when  used car salesman is lying his ass off to get you into the driver’s seat of the bucket he his trying to pitch to you.

I will say this. I wish the President had been more energetic and aggressive. A little.

However, the only universe that Mitt Romney “Won” that debate last night is the alternative universe from which Mitt originates. One where facts do not matter. Basically, Mitt Romney “etch-a-sketched” his way through 90 minutes last night. Nearly everything he attacked the about the President was something that he previously supported. And everything that the President has done that has worked, well… That’s in his plan. Everything is apparently in this “Plan of his”. The problem for Mr. Romney is, in this universe, there are things like fact checkers, who have stated both last night and today, that Romney either lied or misled on a number of occasions last night.

I am (now) teaching Participation in Government and U.S. History and Government (yes, this liberal is shaping young minds). So of course we discussed the debate this morning. I was really pleased to hear that many of the students not only watched the debates, but watched some of the coverage of it, and were able to articulate what the pundits had to say. What I said to my students this morning was this. If you put the TV on mute, and watched but did not listen. Mitt Romney won that debate last night in a landslide. He looked directly at the President, was forceful and energetic. I don’t know what the smile/grimace thing is that he does, but it is terrible. But aside from that, Mitt “Looked” strong. The President in comparison looked down a lot (was taking notes I think), nodded when Romney was talking as if he agreed with him, and looked at the camera, not at Romney when he was talking.

If, however, you were to read the transcript, i.e. take away the visual and just have the words, the President won this thing going away. Romney only wins when you suspend disbelief. The substance, as has been the issue for him from day 1, was not there. I don’t know what the polls will show following this debate. The general consensus is that Romney “won”, big. I suppose that means the polls will tighten. If however, the electorate is smart enough to know when they are being lied to, repeatedly, I don’t think their will be much change.

I am disappointed that this is the post I am writing today. I think the President had the opportunity to shut the door on Romney last night. If he hit him on the 47% comments, on the Ryan budget, on the lies and distortions, on the etch-a-sketch nature of the Romney campaign etc., if he put Romney on the defensive, it could have ended this campaign.

I do think that the incumbent is at a disadvantage. There are four years of Obama policies, some successful, some not, from which to attack. Romney has the benefit of sitting back and saying, “this failed, that failed, I’d keep that, I’d replace that, I do this and that”, but never had to actually say how he would do so. Meanwhile, the President is in the position of defending the record while simultaneously stating what he is going to do better. It is a tough spot. One that in a lot of ways President Obama put himself in, but still tough.

ADDED:

Pay particular attention to the part about the ’84 election at about 10 minutes in:

Watch THIS VIDEO

Four More Years?

I personally do not believe in jinxes.

I think what is going to happen is going to happen. Therefore I feel confident in stating that I believe we are looking a a fairly decisive victory for President Obama in November.

I was pretty sure this was going to be the case prior to the RNC last week, and nothing that happened there changed my thinking.

Following the DNC this week, I feel more confident in making this claim. I was reading Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com yesterday. If you harken back to ’08 and ’10, you will remember that Nate was just about as dead-on as one can be with forecasting the outcome of the election. Nate makes the comparison to golf. Stating that President Obama has a three stroke lead with three holes to play (the debates being those three holes..?) Nate’s point is that because President Obama does not need to make up ground in order to win (he has him with a 77% chance of winning the election as of today) all he needs to do is not “bogey a hole” (as someone who has recently taken up golf, I love all of these references) in order to win.

In my opinion, the Democrats did a masterful job highlighting the long list of successes that President Obama can claim. While at the same time reminding the American people what an absolute mess he inherited.

Some of the best moments from the DNC include Representative Gabrielle Giffords leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. You will remember that Mrs. Giffords is the survivor of an assassination attempt. Her presence serves as a reminder that at times, public servants literally put their lives on the line in order to do their jobs:

The First Lady, Michelle Obama’s speech:

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s speech:

And who I believe will be the first Latino President of the United States, Houston Texas Mayor, Julian Castro’s speech:

And the return of Bubba:

I think this entire week was a resounding win for the Democratic party. I believe the goal was to remind people that the Government is not their enemy, and that it is all of our responsibilities to make sure that through our own self-government, we continue to perfect this union. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made the point last night, and I have failed to find a video, that during election time it is easy to forget just how special our system is. For the vast majority of human history, disputes between people of different races, nation or regions of origin, or political ideology settled their disputes through bloodshed and war. For 150 years, America has not had to resort to killing our own because of political differences. There is something truly special about the American system of self-government and it is all of our responsiblity to ensure that the Government works for ALL of US.