Archive for January, 2012

Why All Politicians Must Pass Psychological And Intelligence Tests To Qualify For Office
January 26, 2012

Without comment.

Okay, comment… someone please recall this idiot from office. Oh, wait a minute… he’s in Oklahoma, the great American Midwest, where the real Bible crazies live. Next thing you know the citizenry there will be encouraging him to run for the Presidency because he’s so damn smart.

It makes me wonder just how low into the swamp of human stupidity American politics and politicians can sink.


Obama’s SOTU Speech Text
January 25, 2012

Text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, as provided by the White House:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought– and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al-Qaida’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share – the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.

Let’s remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.

The state of our union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last– an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.

What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can’t bring back every job that’s left our shores. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.

We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it.

So let’s change it. First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it. That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home.

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here.

Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.

My message is simple. It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I’ll sign them right away.

We’re also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements I signed into law, we are on track to meet that goal – ahead of schedule. Soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago.

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules. We’ve brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration– and it’s made a difference. Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I’m announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing finance or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you– America will always win.

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that– openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work.

That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers– places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need. It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than one percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning– the first time that’s happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies– just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let’s offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn.

We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.

Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury– it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

That doesn’t make sense.

I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.

The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let’s pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year.

Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don’t gut these investments in our budget. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet; to new American jobs and new American industries.

Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.

But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy– a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock– reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.

What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, "I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future."

Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy. An incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.

There’s never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest-hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren’t the only ones hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who’ve seen their home values decline. And while Government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

That’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.

Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We’ve all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them. That’s why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don’t destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.

There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill– because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.

I’m confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the gulf two years ago. I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men.

And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system’s core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, start a business, or send a kid to college.

So if you’re a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits. You’re required to write out a "living will" that details exactly how you’ll pay the bills if you fail – because the rest of us aren’t bailing you out ever again. And if you’re a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can’t afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them.

We will also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there’s no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That’s bad for consumers, and it’s bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

A return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help us protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.

When it comes to the deficit, we’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else– like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.

The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.

We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference– like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last.

I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt; energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right now: Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to confidence in our economy last year didn’t come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?

I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad– and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let’s take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.

Some of what’s broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything– even routine business – passed through the Senate. Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.

The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote. That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our Government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.

Finally, none of these reforms can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.

I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States. That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work. That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about Government spending have supported federally-financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective Government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there is nothing the United States of America can’t achieve.

That is the lesson we’ve learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al-Qaida operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can’t escape the reach of the United States of America.

From this position of strength, we’ve begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America.

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo; from Sana’a to Tripoli. A year ago, Qadhafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators– a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change can’t be reversed, and that human dignity can’t be denied.

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings– men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America’s own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before; its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent. Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. We’ve made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we’ve built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we’ve led against hunger and disease; from the blows we’ve dealt to our enemies; to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us. That’s not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin; from Cape Town to Rio; where opinions of America are higher than they’ve been in years. Yes, the world is changing; no, we can’t control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs– and as long as I’m President, I intend to keep it that way.

That’s why, working with our military leaders, I have proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I have already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber-threats.

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well as they served us. That includes giving them the care and benefits they have earned– which is why we’ve increased annual VA spending every year I’ve been President. And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our Nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we are providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I’m proposing a Veterans Job Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her.

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates– a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job– the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other– because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Sounds good. Let’s see if he actually stands up and takes on the Republicans on these issues, or if  just continues to carry on as he has the past three years by caving constantly whenever they say ‘Boo!’

If he and Congressional Democrats in both houses can coordinate and act like men instead of frightened mice, perhaps they can snuff the idiocy of the right wing and actually get the country to where Obama’s speech says he wants to go.

We’ll see, we’ll see…

Racial Division: Republicans In The South, Via England
January 19, 2012

There’s a good piece in The Guardian about racial prejudice being used by Republicans to foster racial division in South Carolina.

Naturally we have to read a well written and researched article like this in an English newspaper because the American press won’t touch it. Just like the fact that more whites get food stamps than blacks seems somehow never to get as much mention as Republican charges that blacks are sucking from the system the money and the jobs and whatever else white people might want.

Yay America! Rah rah rah! Keep it pure!


Ron Paul: Liar, Bigot, Ignorant, Ugly Little Man
January 17, 2012

Well that headline should boost my blog hits when all Ron Paul’s devoted, mindless fanatics check in.

I doubt that Paul has the proverbial snowball’s chance of getting the Republican nomination, much less actually winning the White House. But, given the quality of the American electorate, strange things could happen.

There is an article over at The New Republic which discusses his old newsletters and provides links to scanned copies of them. These are the newsletters that Paul now claims he didn’t read, and that somebody else wrote under his name. And yet, in the December 1996 issue of Survival Report, the article notes:

Paul, who has repeatedly claimed over the past month that he “didn’t read” his own newsletters, wrote, “I don’t agree with it 100% either, but I still grab it from the mailbox and read it, front to back, the minute I get it.”

So, Representative Paul, were you lying then or are you lying now?

The newsletters show Paul for the bigoted, ignorant, ugly little man that he is. He can claim he didn’t write any of it, but apparently he’s not willing to back up that claim or to disavow the contents of the newsletters. He allowed the material to go out under his name, which makes him responsible for it and he should be held accountable.

It’s unfortunate that his legions of dedicated collegiate followers apparently have gotten no education in critical thinking in those high-priced classes they take at those expensive colleges. They’re giving a college education a bad name by supporting Paul and engaging in aggressive apologetics for the tiny-brained man from Texas.

It’s a sign of the times we live in, and of the poor quality of American education, that a politician like Paul can promote his simple-minded policy prescriptions and have them taken seriously by so many people who are supposed to be intelligent. And even sadder that they are so eager to dismiss his hateful comments in his newsletters.

If the country is very lucky we won’t have to hear from or say much more about Ron Paul. But we should be kind and hope that he can find his way back to the Texas rock from under which he crawled.


New Grumpy Blog…
January 15, 2012

I’ve started a new blog, The Grumpy Stoic, for anyone interested in the philosophy of Stoicism and my exploration of it. It is somewhat tentative for the moment, as the first post will explain. Comments welcome, with the usual provisos.

Arizona Bans Shakespeare From Schools; Join Next Week’s Book Burning In Phoenix
January 13, 2012

And that’s not the worst of it.

From Salon:

Another notable text removed from Tucson’s classrooms is Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” In a meeting this week, administrators informed Mexican-American studies teachers to stay away from any units where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes,” including the teaching of Shakespeare’s classic in Mexican-American literature courses.

Read all about it at Salon. Learn how Arizona, in its quest for racial purity, steps into the New Dark Ages mandated by Republican Tea Party paranoia, ignorance, fear, and sheer stupidity. If you want a preview of a Republican America, take a look.

Next Friday there’ll be a public book burning on the steps of the Capitol building on West Washington Street in Phoenix. Bring your favorite book to throw on the funeral pyre of freedom – better do it before they come knocking on your door at 4 a.m.

(Amused? Don’t be. This is how it starts.)


The American Dream, Visited…
January 13, 2012

One hears that phrase a lot, ‘the American Dream’, during the current financial crisis, usually by some pundit or expert on something or other noting that millions of people can no longer hope to achieve the American Dream.

So… anybody care to comment and explain just what the American Dream is? Or what you think it is? Or isn’t? And does it matter?


New Hampshire: Religious Idiots In The Legislature–Republicans, Of Course
January 12, 2012

Here’s another argument for requiring educational, intellectual, and emotional testing of people who want to serve in public office. A Republican (of course, again) is sponsoring a bill to force the teaching of creationism in school classrooms, which is not unusual from the intellectual Neandertals on the right, but this one has an ugly twist to it.

It would require science teachers to address scientists’ “political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Jerry Bergevin, explained:

I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It’s a worldview and it’s godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they’ve been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don’t respect human rights. As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it… Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.

Believing in evolution is evidence of criminality? Believing in science means you are a criminal? What’s next from these brilliant thinkers – legislation demanding that we burn witches?

Two other Republicans have introduced another bill that is fairly standard fare for the brain damaged religionists of the right. From the Huffington Post:

As the Concord Monitor noted, "[Representative Gary] Hopper points to the state constitution and its order that teachers support their students’ ‘morality and piety’ for the justification of his bill." The article goes on to explain, "He would like to see intelligent design – the idea that a creator controlled how early life on Earth developed – taught in classrooms, but hasn’t been able to find an example of the philosophy being successfully legislated into schools."

Gee, Gary, there’s reasons for that. One, it’s not a philosophy, it’s simple ignorance. Two, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have said over and over that you can’t foist your religion on students in public schools.

Unfortunately New Hampshire is not the only state these dim bulbs of the religious right are attempting to pollute with their profound desire to return to the tenth century, or perhaps they have the Stone Age in mind.

Apparently the old religious saying is still true: “The dumbass religionists we will always have with us.”


Parsing The Romney Coronation Speech In New Hampshire
January 11, 2012

A while back I read a piece somewhere explaining why political candidates do try to keep their campaign promises. Unfortunately I didn’t note the address and can’t cite it. But it made a respectable case against the common wisdom that such  promises are lies from the outset. So assuming there is some truth to what the article said, I’ve copied the prepared transcript of Willard ‘The  Mitten’ Romney’s victory speech in New Hampshire last night, a speech which  sounded both in content and tone like his coronation acceptance speech rather than a humble thank you to the voters of a small state who gave him less than  forty percent of their votes.

I would, in the spirit of full disclosure, note that I could not listen to the whole speech, as I find Romney repulsive and the implications of his speech repulsive. I had the same reaction to Reagan from the beginning and to Bush Jr. from the first time I  heard him. Both of them hurt the country badly and Romney has the same feel about him.

Here’s the speech and my commentary vent. The speech is indented. Yes, I know, I’m all prolix and voluble and babbly, but, hey, a guy’s gotta have some  fun in life, right? And after all, it’s The Mitten we’re talking about here.

Thank you, New Hampshire! Tonight, we made history!

Good start. Pure hyperbole. He’s referring to the fact that he is the first non-incumbent politico Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. Big so what. He beat a bigoted religious freak by eight votes in Iowa, and didn’t even get forty percent of the votes in New Hampshire, where an addled Libertarian got twenty-five percent.

This state has always been a special place for our family. Ann and I made a home here and we’ve filled it with great memories of our children and grandchildren. And this Granite State moment is one we will always remember.

How many mansions does that make, Mitt? And how’s the demolition of your twelve million dollar cottage coming?

Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we go back to work.

Work? Please. You’re buying elections, you and your so-called independent super PAC. The people work.  You buy votes and pander.

We remember when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago.

He promised to bring people together.

He promised to change the broken system in Washington.

He promised to improve our nation.

True, he did say those things. And as soon as he got to Washington the first thing the Republicans (that’s you party, Mitt, in case you forgot) said was their first and only goal was to deny him a second term. Since then they treated him like dirt, they refused to negotiate in good faith, they lied to him and to us, and they have obstructed, blindly and unreasonably, every initiative he attempted. He could have done better, but you’re going to lay it all on him and you’re wrong.

Those were the days of lofty promises made by a hopeful candidate. Today, we are faced with the disappointing record of a failed President. The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t offered much hope.

Clever, Mitt, clever rhetoric. But it’s been done before. Hope you didn’t stay up too late thinking it up.

Disappointing record? Sure, I’ll give you that. Failed President? No, because despite the worst your party could do, and did do,  Obama got some stuff done.

The middle class has been crushed. Nearly 24 million of our fellow Americans are still out of work, struggling to find work, or have just stopped looking. The median income has dropped 10% in four years. Soldiers returning from the front lines are waiting in unemployment lines. Our debt is too high and our opportunities too few.

The middle class isn’t dead yet, Mitt, and if they’re smart they’ll throw you out on your ass before you have a chance to finish the brutal job your Republicans have done on them the last thirty years or so. Those people are out of work because you people have managed to push your blind ideology of deregulation and low taxes, and no taxes for the rich, through the Congress, and willing Republican presidents have signed them. Your goal, your party’s goal, has been to kill as much government as possible, never mind the consequences to the country.

And this President wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, “It could be worse.”

And he’s right. That’s the best that can be said of what’s happened. And it could have been a whole damn sight worse if the Republicans had succeeded in blocking more of the recovery programs. And if you’re going to hand out blame for the efforts to stave off financial disaster, you might want to start with the Bush appointees who created the financial bailout plan and carried it out. Funny how that worked out, isn’t it, Mitt? A Republican plan that staved off a worldwide financial collapse, and you blame Obama because it didn’t make everything shiny and bright again right away.

It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse?

Of course not.

I suspect that your life as a coddled rich boy who inherited his wealth really doesn’t qualify you to pass judgment on what it means to be an American.

What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better.

That conviction guides our campaign. It has rallied millions of Americans in every corner of this country to our cause.

Over the last six months, I’ve listened to anxious voices in town meetings and visited with students and soldiers. In break rooms and living rooms, I’ve heard stories of families getting by on less, of carefully planned retirements now replaced by jobs at minimum wage. But even now, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, I’ve rarely heard a refrain of hopelessness.

Apparently, Mitt, you haven’t talked to the millions who have lost their homes, their savings, even their pets (don’t you dare go there), who haven’t had even the faintest whiff of a job in a year, two years, longer. You haven’t talked to the families of the suicides. Anxious voices, Mitt? Anxious? They’re desperate, Mitt. But you live in a golden cocoon and you’ll never hear them. But oh you do like to fire them, eh? You do like to close the factories that employed them so you can pocket some millions, don’t you? You haven’t heard a refrain of hopelessness because you haven’t got the balls to actually and really listen. You don’t  know how and frankly, you don’t give a damn.

Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times. We still believe in the hope, the promise, and the dream of America. We still believe in that shining city on a hill.

No, Mitt, there’s no shining city on a hill. America is not exceptional. It is not the greatest. We’re not number one, rah rah rah. Thinking Americans realize we could go down the tubes in a flash, and the better thinkers know that you and the Republicans are just the ones to open the tube and flush.

We know that the future of this country is better than 8 or 9% unemployment.

It is better than $15 trillion in debt.

It is better than the misguided policies and broken promises of the last three years – and the failed leadership of one man.

We don’t actually know any of that. We have no clue what the future holds. We do know that there are plenty of ways for it all to get worse. We do know there are other players in the game, other countries with their own problems that threaten world economic stability. But I’m sure you’re going to rattle some sabers at them later, right? That’ll show ‘em.

The President has run out of ideas. Now, he’s running out of excuses. And tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.

Not so. He’s got ideas. He’s not making excuses. He didn’t do a lot of what we thought he would do, but he made an effort, sometimes successful, sometimes not, in the face of intransigent, blind, ideological, and one might suspect racial, opposition from your party, Mitt.

President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our Party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success. In these difficult times, we cannot abandon the core values that define us as unique — We are One Nation, Under God.

Large load of crap, there, Mitt, very large load.

What’s your definition of free enterprise, Mitt? Unregulated capitalism, the sort of thing that crashed the economy? What do you mean by ‘put free enterprise on trial’? Nice sound byte, but it doesn’t mean anything in the real world.

Desperate Republicans joining him? Do you live in a padded room, Mitt? Your fellow candidates from the rabid right have been trying to castrate Obama, and you, for years. That hardly amounts to joining forces with Obama. Or do you mean that they’re desperate because they’re trying to beat you to the coronation… oh, sorry… nomination? That’s what you really mean, isn’t it, Mitt? The world is either with you or against you, eh? We just got rid of a Republican who thought that way and did a damn fine job of destroying democracy in America under the guise of crushing little brown people in the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

And there’s that phrase ‘resentment of success’. Nice bit, Mitt. Let me guess… that’s directed at all those people who want rich boys like you and the Koch Brothers and all the rest of you to pay a fair share of your income in taxes, who want you to carry some of the burden of putting the country back together again. You think we out here in dirty old middle class America hate rich people and want to take everything away from them, and you. Not true. We don’t like rich people who just want more and more and more, who refuse to recognize that they built their wealth either on the backs of wage earners or they got it from manipulating pieces of paper and producing not a single damn useful thing for the community and insist they not be taxed on it. What we resent, Mitt, is your greed, your lust for our money, your savage chase for power so you can get more money. You don’t want to govern, Mitt, you and your kind want to rule.

As for ‘One Nation, Under God’, that is frankly bullshit, but you’d have to actually walk around among real people, have to do some actual work for wages for years on end, to figure that out.

Make no mistake, in this campaign, I will offer the American ideals of economic freedom a clear and unapologetic defense.

Don’t think so, Mitt. Economic freedom does not mean being ripped off, demeaned, enslaved, and beaten down by corporations in bed with a government that refuses to properly regulate them so that they can’t treat people like dung. We know what Republican ‘economic freedom’ means. It means slaving so you and a few others can get obscenely rich.

Our campaign is about more than replacing a President; it is about saving the soul of America. This election is a choice between two very different destinies.

President Obama wants to “fundamentally transform” America. We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great.

Logically speaking, Mitt, America doesn’t have a ‘soul’. It’s a country, not a person. And there are millions of us who reject the idea of persons having souls. But you wouldn’t understand that either. Too much thinking involved. But you can’t ‘save’ something that doesn’t exist. Nice rhetoric, but as usual, you come up empty.

Nor can you, or anyone, choose your destiny. First off, you assume there is such a thing as destiny, and that assumption is why the United States has killed so many little brown and yellow people over the decades. We have no destiny to rule. We are not exceptional. We are not the city on a hill. We’re just another wannabe empire in the minds of some frankly insane people in Washington. You know them, Mitt, the right wing crazies who drove us into Iraq and Afghanistan and want to wreck us completely on the brutal reef of Iran. Your buddies, apparently.

He wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity.

Those people in Europe, they pay taxes for the services of government, pretty hefty taxes in some cases. And in some cases they actually get real human services: education, health care, medicine, child care, strong infrastructure. What do we get for the taxes you want to cut to the bone for your class and dump on the rest of us? A bloated military that can’t defeat a bunch of guys in pajamas and carrying AK-47s (not that they should even have tried). An education system that at best ranks in the middle, if not in the bottom half of modern nations. A health care system that brags how good it is but neglects to mention it only works if you’ve got a bunch of money. A system of crumbling roads, bridges, and water systems. A government run by the corporate cronies of Congressmen and Senators, who are so desperate for money to stay in office that they allow the corporations to effectively write the laws (guess who benefits?).

And as for the entitlements in this country that you and your political cronies whine about, we paid our damned taxes for those, we worked our entire lives for those, and I think you’ll find we resent rich poufs like you who say we should lose them so you can finance your adolescent wet dream of government.

This President takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe; we look to the cities and small towns of America.

This President puts his faith in government. We put our faith in the American people.

Those people in the capitols of Europe (ironic that a rich man would confuse ‘capitols’ and ‘capitals’), for whatever faults they may have, they know a hell of a lot more about governing than small town Americans who respond to the sort of rhetorical dreck you and other politicians put out. You might want to try to learn from them, but that might require you to think and get your hands dirty. But I doubt you can think and work at the same time, Mitt. Start easy. Try walking and chewing gum at the same time.

He is making the federal government bigger, burdensome, and bloated. I will make it simpler, smaller, and smarter.

Apparently the government grew an awful lot more under his predecessor, you know, a Republican. As for burdensome, maybe you might want to talk to the families of dead American soldiers, pretty much all from the middle and working and poor classes. We remember last time you ran this route, Mitt, and we questioned why your five sons, all of age, weren’t volunteering to serve in the military, and your answer was they were serving the country by helping you run for President. Wrong answer, Mitt. Rich man’s answer. Man out of touch answer. Man who doesn’t really give a damn what happens to the lower classes as long as they serve his interests.

As for simpler, smaller, and smarter, that’s another crock. To do that you have to throw tens of thousands of people out of work, for starters, but that’s okay with you. You made your millions doing that, didn’t you, Mitt? Just the thing to do in the middle of a destructive recession, put more people out of work, take more money out of circulation so fewer products can be purchased. Good thinking, Mitt, good thinking. And of course you’ll be left with fewer people doing the same or more amount of work, and they’ll be stressed, and work won’t get done, commitments won’t be met, and the economy will crash a little more. And we will bitch about the crappy service we paid our taxes for.

He raised the national debt. I will cut, cap, and balance the budget.

Can’t run a country on a balanced budget, Mitt. Unless of course you don’t mind sacrificing people’s lives, jobs, health, savings, and so on. It’s a government, not a business. Repeat that ten times every hour. It’s a government, not a business. The economics are different, the rules are different, the needs are different.

And we know what you’ll cut, Mitt. You’ll cut the throats of the people to get blood to fuel your broken ideology.

He enacted job-killing regulations; I’ll eliminate them.

Now where’s that study that shows that regulations help create and preserve jobs? It’s around here somewhere on the internet or in a government office. It’s lack of fair regulations and oversight that kills jobs, that sends them overseas, that kills workers and their families. You’ll eliminate them? You’ll eliminate the oversight that protects us from predatory, greedy corporations, like Bain Capital.

He lost our AAA credit rating; I’ll restore it.

No he didn’t. Your party did because of their incredibly short-sighted, vicious refusal to pass the debt ceiling bill, and their constant and continuous obstructionism in Congress. That wasn’t Obama’s doing, you jackass, and you know it.

He passed Obamacare; I’ll repeal it.

Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. And guess what, despite its flaws, people like it. Sane people, that is. When you say you’ll repeal it, all you’re saying is that you’ll turn the insurance companies loose on sick people again, all you’re saying is that it’s okay with you if people get sick and die or get crippled in the name of your bloody ideology.

When it comes to the economy, my highest priority as President will be worrying about your job, not saving my own.

Funny how that never bothered you before when you were throwing people out of their jobs, destroying the businesses that employed them, and pocketing the blood money.

Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. He believes America’s role as leader in the world is a thing of the past. I believe a strong America must – and will – lead the future.

Nonsense. He believes in talking before you get to the shooting. He believes in building alliances instead of acting like a dumbass John Wayne movie cowboy who knows nothing and just shoots.

And we don’t need to lead the future. We’ve done a lousy job of leading in the past most of the time, and when we do claim to have done a good job of leading, we tend to ignore the crucial part other countries have played. And again, we are not exceptional. We are not the city on a hill. We are not destined.

He doesn’t see the need for overwhelming American military superiority. I will insist on a military so powerful no one would think of challenging it.

Did I mention adolescent wet dreams? Did I mention sheer stupidity? Did I mention a complete failure to comprehend reality and to replace comprehension with a blind paranoia? And did you mention how you’re going to pay for this supermilitary wet dream out of your balanced budget? Talk about crushing the middle class! And for no good end.

He chastises friends like Israel; I’ll stand with our friends.

Israel is not our friend. Israel plays Washington like a marionette theater. Israel is a brutal apartheid regime engaged in ethnic cleansing. (And no, that’s not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish: that’s  anti the  actions and policies of Israel’s government. I don’t give a fig what their religion is.)

He apologizes for America; I will never apologize for the greatest nation in the history of the Earth.

Somebody should apologize for some of the evil crap the United States has done in the world, but nobody has, not in any meaningful way. And the United States is hardly the greatest nation in the history of the Earth. I’m thinking maybe Rome might be that one, but it doesn’t really matter. Having more guns and bombs does not make for greatness. It does do for arrogance though. I think we’d rather have a great education system; a strong manufacturing base; good jobs and benefits for all our people; quality health care, irrevocable, and free from predatory corporations, for everyone; safe roads and bridges; modern water and sewer systems; and a constitutional amendment requiring that anyone running for public office be intellectually and emotionally qualified to do so. Now those things would begin to create a great nation. Right now we qualify as something little better than a provincial backwater, with provincial thinking, and with a lot of guns and bombs and the stupidity to use them.

Our plans protect freedom and opportunity, and our blueprint is the Constitution of the United States.

Empty rhetoric, Mitt, empty rhetoric. Pandering to the slavering right.

The path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the solution. If this election is a bidding war for who can promise more benefits, then I’m not your President. You have that President today.

And again, we pretty much paid for and earned those government checks. And what we want cradle-to-grave is the assurance that government will be honest and fair, that it will reject ideology and ideologues, that its representatives will be intelligent and mature and rational, and that it won’t sell us out to the highest bidder or the most insane ideologue. Obama didn’t promise any of those things you mention, but I do think he would very much like to provide the things I mention to some degree or other.

But if you want to make this election about restoring American greatness, then I hope you will join us.

More empty rhetoric.

If you believe the disappointments of the last few years are a detour, not our destiny, then I am asking for your vote.

No destiny, Mitt. And the detour was built by Republicans wrecking the road.

I’m asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American.

Yeah, sure. Iraq. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Panama. Vietnam. Afghanistan. Bagram prison. American torturers. Come on, everybody, don’t you feel special? Mitt says you should feel special. Get with the program.

I want you to remember what it was like to be hopeful and excited about the future, not to dread each new headline.

I dread the headline that says a pouf like you wins the White House.

I want you to remember when you spent more time dreaming about where to send your kids to college than wondering how to make it to the next paycheck.

I want you to remember when you weren’t afraid to look at your retirement savings or the price at the pump.

That would be pretty much never for the working class and much of the middle class, Mitt, but you wouldn’t know about that, would you?

I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become.

You need to get out more, Mitt. Do you really think you’re doing us any favors by badmouthing Europe? Do you really expect us to respect you when you continue to demonstrate ignorance about the real world on both the international and national level?

That America is still out there. We still believe in that America.

We still believe in the America that is a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom. We believe in the America that challenges each of us to be better and bigger than ourselves.

Pathetic pandering to the right wing. Better and bigger? You mean make more money, don’t you, Mitt? That’s how you and your friends measure things.

This election, let’s fight for the America we love. We believe in America.

You and yours have pretty much trashed the America we love, and are on your way to trashing it more thoroughly and completely than a person might have believed possible only a few decades ago.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

I do wish you people would quit with the God nonsense. You’re as bad as Tim Tebow throwing his religious superstition in the faces of millions of people every time he farts on the football field. Put your gods in the closet and get out here in the real world. You need to spend a few years flipping hamburgers, Mitt. Then you’ll see what America is about, what it’s really about, what it’s really become. Live on that wage, you pouf.

So old Mitt’s campaign promise, in sum, is to further the Republican destruction of freedom and democracy in America, and to pay for it on the backs of the middle class and the wage earners and the poor. He’s an ignorant, cocooned rich boy who will, without a doubt, screw up what’s left of hope for an ideal America, of the real American dream.


Libertarian Fish Killers
January 10, 2012

As much as I dislike President Obama, the politician, I can’t countenance one of these Republicans getting in. Nor can I understand why anyone would find them attractive or qualified for the office. I suppose with the intense polarization it’s to be expected, and with the weak press, and the weak-minded electorate, what can you do?

The right have sold too many people on the nostrum that government is the problem, and the left hasn’t come back with an answer that resonates. Somehow the right think that they’ll be able to manage everything that needs managing in the country without any sort of central government. They don’t want to pay taxes, but they expect everything to run smoothly, they expect things to get fixed when broken, and they expect to be safe in their homes and persons, all apparently for free. They denigrate struggling teachers and worship multimillionaire basketball players. They ignore critical issues like infrastructure, the environment, education, and the like, and focus laserlike on trivia such  as including the words ‘under God’ in the pledge of allegiance, as if saying the pledge, with or without those words, will magically ensure the success of the United States and guarantee them a safe and wealthy life. They don’t want politics and reasoned compromise, they don’t want intelligent thought and reflection, they don’t want realism. They want magic. They want voodoo. They want to dance around a fire in their cave to propitiate their gods, occasionally throwing a virgin on the coals to make things right with the heavens.

Yesterday, during a radio interview in New Hampshire, some woman rattled on and on that government has gotten too big, had no right to tell her how to live, and that she should be able to do whatever she wanted. She of course extended that to everybody, but gave not one bit of thought to community, to the idea that if she just did whatever she wanted, how would people react when her actions impinged on their freedom to do whatever they wanted. That seems never to occur to these so-called libertarians. They don’t want to pay for government, they don’t want courts, they don’t want a political process, they just want to do what they want to do. And the irony is that they pretty much already can do whatever they want to do, except when their actions infringe on the common good of the community. You want to build on wetlands, filling them in so you can build your house? If you do that, you contribute to the destruction of offshore fisheries because the young fish are hatched and grow in those wetlands. So if everybody fills in the wetlands, the fishery dies, and the fishermen, who may be your neighbors, or may live and operate their boats a long way from where you live, lose their livelihoods, and the ecosystem is disturbed when the fish that depend on the fish you exterminated are deprived of their food source. But the right object to government agencies and government scientists putting facts in the way of narcissism, ego, and greed.

The right want to eliminate government agencies like the FDA, but when some company that the FDA now regulates no longer faces oversight puts poison in a bottle and kills your kid, what are you going to do? Shoot somebody? Go to court, putting your thousand dollars in savings against a megacorporation that doesn’t give a damn about you or your kid because nobody holds them accountable? They’ll crush you with their suites of million-dollar lawyers and they won’t even notice the cost.

Don’t want the EPA? You’d rather breathe coal-soaked air, drink water full of the byproducts of gas fracking, visit oil wells in national parks, see the Grand Canyon honeycombed with uranium mines, watch rivers become so polluted that they catch fire like the Cuyahoga did before the Clean Air Act (signed by Nixon, by the way)? That’s your vision of a better America?

Government is not perfect, and it is at the moment broken in large part because rich people like the Koch Brothers want it broken, which is why they finance the Tea Party and encourage the sort of mindless libertarianism that runs rampant today in Congress and on the right generally. When you see the big money boys supporting the minimalization of government you had better start asking yourself why. It’s nothing high-minded, you can count on that. They just want to do what they want to do without anyone calling them to account or holding them responsible for their actions. They don’t want government. They want to rule. And they’re paying hundreds of millions of dollars to get their way.

Your dollars, by the way. Not only do you support their actions when you buy their products, you pay their taxes for them because they cut deals with politicians that allow them to pay either nothing or a pittance in taxes. You make up for what they don’t pay. How’s that for doing what you want to do without government interference?

You cannot make government good by eliminating government.

If you want to live in a country of three hundred and fifty million people, and live in peace and follow your bliss or your dream or whatever it is that you want to do, you have to come to terms with the idea that governance is required, and that such governance is complex and complicated and messy, and that it requires your thoughtful, educated attention. To want to have everything your way is childish, it is ignorant, it is thoughtless. But if you insist then it is best you go live alone somewhere, perhaps up in the northern wilds of Canada, if they’ll have you, and while you’re there perhaps you can breathe in the methane and other greenhouse gasses releasing from the melting permafrost, courtesy of the mindless politicians on the right, the deregulators, the obstructionists, the whores of uncontrolled capitalists, in the Republican Tea Party who insist there’s no such thing as global warming and we certainly don’t want the government interfering even if there is such a thing.

Don’t bother sending a post card home.