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Reprinted letter to the White House:

Assuming an Obama victory (Nate Silver reassures me), I am offering my support of an effort to work with NJ Gov. Chris Christie on the issue of climate change.  Gov. Christie has made intelligent comments on the issue (ie 'deferring to 90% of the experts who believe it's real and man-made').  More so, Gov. Christie has influence with the conservative base, and he now has the 'bully pulpit' of a wrecked state to present his case - and presenting his case is not something he shies away from.  

In closing, please continue to hug Gov. Christie and work with him on this issue.  If this bipartisanship means his political 'brand' is strengthened, then it's certainly for the right reasons.

Poll

Should Chris Christie be Obama's running mate in the climate change action marathon?

81%52 votes
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| 64 votes | Vote | Results

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It's either a case of my personal preference for Clinton's 'data + Bubba' style, or President Obama needs new speech writers.  Perhaps it's both.

I recognize that the DNC acceptance speech was not intended as a detailed policy speech. Leaving the wisdom of that decision aside,  there were glaring elements nonetheless. I'll focus on one deficiency in particular.

Midway through his speech, President Obama spoke of 'no party having all the wisdom' and 'democracy requires compromise'. This was a good line mixing philosophy and practicality. It was the voice of reason - and President Obama's tone matched.

However, with the very next sentence, President Obama's tone hardened, and he began to recite a litany of things he 'refuses' to do. This is where I was baffled.

Firstly, I was baffled because President Obama has compromised on every item that he spoke of. Much to their chagrin, Obama's base is likely to know the compromises, but the less informed of the 'undecideds' is unlikely to know of the extent to which Obama compromised. He met Republicans not just in the middle - but even way over on their side of the governing philosophy line. These were the bare facts that were not communicated.

Secondly, I was baffled that Obama did not offer a personal element to this that allowed undecideds to put names and faces to the GOP 'Party of No'.  He could easily have brought up some inside ball story regarding the Boehner meetings - and the deal that went sour.  He could have mentioned that Grover Norquist - a non-elected official - forced Republicans to go back on a $4 trillion deficit reduction deal with $10 in cuts to every $1 in tax revenue (from the millionaires mind you).  If not the voters, who does Norquist work for then?  Who does the GOP work for?

Who we work for would have then been presented as the natural pivot to discuss the middle class and specific legislation that Obama and the Democrats have proposed for creating jobs, reducing the debt, etc.  

These details could be conveyed to any sufficiently interested voter in the space of 30 seconds.  However, by taking a minute to talk about things he 'refuses' to consider, Obama comes off just as inflexible and dogmatic as the GOP - which he is not.

Obama could have both motivated the base (Grover Norquists' name tends to do that) and also appealed to undecideds (10 to 1 is a strong number).

Do I blame this just on speech writers?  No.  Bill Clinton showed that you don't have to roll with what's on the teleprompter, and that guy really gets the audience rockin' and rollin'.  More importantly, his tone and substance were far more persuasive.

Here's my unsolicited and probably unwelcome advice to Obama...fire the speechwriters lest you take an unnecessary risk of being fired yourself.  Economy aside, it's hard for me to fathom that he's threatened by Romney and Ryan.

Poll

What speech was more effective?

26%6 votes
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| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Enough of Afghanistan!

I was encouraged by President Obama's remarks to the effect that 'all troops would be out by the end of 2014'.  However, a day later the White House press secretary corrects the remarks to be something less.  

President Obama:  Was this 2014 Afghanistan reversal a case of  flipping off your supporters...or flopping on a campaign promise?
What's the holdup on admitting that we will not solve Afghanistan?
Here's my litmus test:
Would anyone bet a years salary (or your net worth) that we have the answer to Afghanistan? If not, then don't bet the lives of more American soldiers.  
We don't need to solve Afghanistan but we do need to solve our own economic, social, and environmental problems.

Please acknowledge reality...dropkick the defense contractors to the curb and forget the 'Make War...not Love' initiatives of the Neocons.  

P.S.  Have you heard the latest Monty Python inspired tune for the contractors: "'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...'Stan...those wonderful 'Stans"

Update:
Before you start posting salad recipes, please answer the question about how many people you will 'lay on the altar of liberty' before we leave Afghanistan.  I assume your presence here on DKos means you won't sacrifice yourself...so how many others in your name?

At the very least, please post with your salad recipe a variation that allows double arm amputees to eat the salad (it's one of the more challenging dishes).

Poll

Re: Afghanistan withdrawl by 2014

5%2 votes
65%23 votes
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| 35 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 10:27 PM PST

Obama's soft power as hard as a baton?

by BOknows

President Obama,

How can you call your foreign policy that of 'soft power' when the world sees a hard kick to the stomach of a female protestor from a uniformed Egyptian soldier?  

How can you call it 'soft power' when we hear the harsh crack of a pistol indiscriminately fired into a crowd of Egyptian youth?  

What part of the baton falls 'softly' on an unconscious civilian lying at the feet of soldiers?

Poll

Do Obama and his Foreign Policy 'Friends' walk softly...or carry a soft stick?

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In the last 25 years, America has seen 80% of economic growth going to the top 2% of Americans.  In the same time period, our national debt has roughly increased 2.5 times.

Now, a significant portion of political might is geared towards reducing taxes on the wealthy under the guise of 'being fair'.  They ignore the economic reality that the average American (60% of the population) has not been the net beneficiary of the increasing debt - as witnessed by their shrinking wallets - but rather the rich (and the top 2-5%). These 'fiscal conservatives' talk of the 'burden' borne by rich taxpayers, when the reality is that the rich still pay lower tax rates by % and still gross and net far more in simple dollar terms.  By any measure, the rich have gotten richer, and the poor have gotten poorer, but that simple truth has been unaddressed.  

Those who speak of another form of 'fairness' - based on addressing economic, environmental, and social inequality - are accused of fomenting 'class warfare'.  These 'progressives' are ignored as they state that the rich have not been good stewards of our economic infrastructure in the Rust Belt and elsewhere, have trashed our environment from Alaska to Yellowstone to the Gulf of Mexico, and have fomented social strife by creating a Nixonian approach to governance that confuses and agitates with issues like immigration and abortion.  

In perhaps the greatest perversion of reality, the rich have somehow labeled themselves as the job 'creators', when they have in fact worked to offshore middle and lower class jobs over the last 3 decades.  And only 3 years ago, it was precisely the richest capitalists that melted down the economy and laid off millions.

These are simple facts, and facts have a way of eventually asserting their weight on everything from lab experiments to public opinion.  As the rumors, innuendo, and outright falsehoods are unlikely to escape the gravity of truth, it's likely that the rich's return to the hard ground of political sentiment will be dramatic.

2011 has certainly been a year of great drama around the world.  The Arab Spring has surprised the powerful and wealthy of even the most oppressive regimes.  In close neighbor Europe, events have lead to a prominent question of 'will America be the next Greece'?  However, unlike Egypt, Libya, and Syria, the Greece context has been one of economics, as in, "will America's public finances break down"?

Looking at Greece again, perhaps the greater question is:  Will America's public order break down?  

What will happen when people at long last acknowledge the reality that they have been duped into increasing productivity year after year, and building the largest, most efficient economy on their backs and brows, only to be less well off then their parents at the same age?

How will the truth be asserted?

Will we have riots?  Will we have looting?  Will centers of finance find themselves under seige?  Will hedge-fund traders be given police escorts from Wall Street?  

America has great passion for politics and a significant portion of the population that is not moderate in any of their thoughts or actions.  What will happen when these people realize that they're being fleeced of their future, and refuse to once again be led like sheep?

Will America be the Greece of ancient Athens that operated in democratic fashion, or the violent Greece of more recent history?  Will the debt vote, or unemployment benefits, or medicare be the catalyst in the next 'government of the people' experiment?  What happens if the great majority finally refuse to share a diminishing portion of an expanding pie?

http://motherjones.com/...

Poll

What is your personal opinion of the potential and likelihood for social disorder?

27%18 votes
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| 66 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 04:28 PM PDT

Pawlenty...I googled you!

by BOknows

So I started reading the Star Tribune article on Pawlenty announcing his grand campaign to dumb down American debate even more... 'government shouldn't be doing it if you can google it'?

Google nearly contains all of the known activities of humankind, so the 'google test' seems to simply be an existence test which will soon create a government composed of nothing.

It's like this Pawlenty, do you really mean that if it exists then Govt should avoid it?  By extension of that logic, should government only be 'in the business' of doing the fanciful, impossible, and non-existent?  I guess that's as likely as explanation as to why the Pentagon continues to fund Star Wars programs as any...but really?

OK...in the spirit of humoring Pawlenty's stroke of idiocy I decided to start googling.  Here's the beginning of the list:
Pawlenty's Dept of Defense http://www.americanprivatesecurity.com/
Pawlenty's Congressional Police http://en.wikipedia.org/...

...

What can you google Dear Reader?

Discuss

Thu May 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM PDT

Obama the new Arafat? [poll]

by BOknows

This is a letter submitted to the Jerusalem Post in response to Israel's right wing response to Obama's speech - in which they referred to Obama as 'the next Arafat'.  The contention of course is that Obama supports a return to 1967 borders, which makes him a founding member of the PLO in their myopic eyes.

As I wrote the above intro, the irony struck me as I considered how I might have constructed the mother of all run-on sentences by continuing to explain the 'responses' that constitute the backstory.  Indeed, that is the backstory - in the Middle East, foreign policies only respond/react.  If so many people hadn't died, were dying, or otherwise made miserable, the whole thing would be pitifully laughable.

Without further ado, the slap of the 600 character-limited lead-lined velvet glove...

This is a 'friendly warning' to Israel. Note that it is not 'friendly advice' - it's beyond that.

America has shed blood, tears & shekels untold for Israel. While we certainly advanced our interests, Israel has been a net beneficiary. What we get is 'Obama is the next Arafat'.

The American public & leadership is increasingly neutral or opposed to advancing Israel's cause. However, Israel must see that dealing with Obama is preferable to dealing alone with 'the PLO' - or perhaps Israel should try that so it might know for itself?

Indeed, why should America care about who Israel deals with in any scenario?

http://www.jpost.com/...

Poll

How should America deal with Israel?

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Who will be the hardest candidate for Obama to match up to on paper?

A short list would include several prominent points, which we label in true draft fashion, 'The Tangibles":

Against Iraq/Afghanistan involvement
Limited government involvement in peoples lives
For decriminalizing marijuana
For Woman's choice on abortion
Successful governor experience
Successful small business experience

Of course, there's the intangibles that let people define the person in their own way.  As we have seen with Obama, a candidate with an interesting life story will make for an enthusiastic base.

So what if there was a pot-smoking Republican that's climbed Mt Everest, competed in triathalons, and was a governor of a state that has a 2:1 Dem-Republican ratio?  What if this same person was elected twice, cut the rate of growth of government in half under his terms,  eliminated 1200 state employees without a single firing, and left a $1 billion surplus without raising taxes?  What if this same person wielded leadership in firm fashion - targeting both Republicans and Democrats as his vetoes alone outnumbered the other 49 governors?  What if he did that without getting a reputation as a tyrant?

What if this candidate was talking and governing like a sophisticated Tea Partier already 17 years ago - before it was trendy?  What if he had Ron Paul's endorsement?  What if he was so direct in his communications that he made 'straight talk' seem like an outdated campaign slogan?  What if his personal appearance alone screams 'I'm not a Suit even when I wear one'?

Seem like a myth?  New Mexico's former governor is Gary Johnson - and on April 21 in NH he will be announcing his run for the presidency.

Does Gary (what a familiar suburbia name compared to Barack) represent Obama's worst nightmare ... while also being a both a savant to the Tea Party and a non-kooky anti-establishment change candidate to just over half of Americans?

Poll

How does Gary Johnson seem to you?

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| 11 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 01:55 PM PDT

Obama: 4 More Years of Change? [poll]

by BOknows

You know this change thing isn't working out so well.

I could explain in exacting detail how I feel the 'change' message got derailed (if it was ever real in the first place) but I frankly don't have the energy to more than give a tired touch.  I will simply say that IMO Rahm embodied everything wrong: who thought that America would appreciate an uncouth, hot-headed, behind-the-scenes wheeler-dealer?  Wasn't Obama all about cool, classy & transparent?

A succinct analysis of Change?  The Obama administration is composed of Clinton/90's retreads - that goes for the people and the ideas.  Who dat Larence Summers?  Dat be a money-grubbing old-boys-club capitalist.

You might say that govt doesn't change overnight - but if we don't see change in drastic fashion in the next year then you will see an even more dramatic change than the 2010 election. Yes Obama team...It's time to start firing before the voters get hiring.

I hear it, and feel it myself:  Obama didn't change, so let's change him.  I hold out the smallest hope that the defense budget will be cut in half, and other great things will happen to this poor nation...but I have lost hope that Obama can/will bring that change.

What about you dear voter?  

Poll

What's your level of enthusiasm for getting behind 4 More Years of Change?

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| 100 votes | Vote | Results

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For the first time in 11 days, Obama took (2) questions from the press pool during a press conference.

For a man who gained popular support for saying that 'words matter', the 'words' fell short. Firstly, it is unacceptable for Obama to make himself unavailable to media and the American public. Secondly, we listened again to a man speak so timidly of a dictator, that it becomes a strong message in itself. Who cares about "Mubarak's psyche"?

One thing is clear: the bland script being written at the White House bears no resemblance to the heat of the Arab Street. It has not had real effect on the actions of Mubarak, and only inflamed those who we need to convince of our change of heart.

The WH message so far has been thus:  We've given Mubarak the car keys (actually tank keys), and we will accept the promise of a man drunk on dictatorial powers to 'drive soberly' towards reform - sometime down the road. And for good measure, American foreign policy will once again 'ride shotgun' - but surely we won't be too critical of 'burning the tires'.

For a man who has spoke strongly of "the fierce urgency of now", how can Obama now counsel patience for a dictator?

Does Obama think it's credible to say 'reform will happen if we just let Mubarak work on it?'

Poll

Should Obama announce that future aid will only be discussed with a democratically elected government?

57%37 votes
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| 64 votes | Vote | Results

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From the beginning of protests, analysts have held the Egyptian army as the high card in this conflict. The wisdom has held that as goes the army, so goes the fate of the people.

Early signs were encouraging: flowers handed out, citizens and soldiers praying, and finally the Army announcing that they would not fire on citizens.

While it might seem best that an authoritarian regime's army would keep hands off a democracy movement, the reality is that the Egypt's army cannot be passive. Egypt's security force includes regular police, plain clothes police, and a cadre of thugs hired for the overtly political occasions. It's not just the Army that has guns.

It is worrisome that an early announcement by the Army has now seemed to be set aside: specifically, the Egyptian army at first said that they were there to protect the people, but now soldiers on the street have indicated that they have no orders to protect protesters.

How can the Egyptian army be nudged into caring deeply for the fate of democracy protests?

Money.

The tanks on the street of Cairo are M1 Abrams. They were provided by the US, and the soldiers paychecks are directly dependent on US aid.

Generals like expensive toys, so why not threaten to take away next year's batch?

Poll

Should Obama announce that future aid will only be discussed with a democratically elected government?

78%26 votes
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| 33 votes | Vote | Results

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Tony Blair announced that "it's time for the West...to stop commentating" and "get moving to a plan of action".

Tony made these remarks as part of the following commentary: "in the 21st century people are going to expect transparent democratic systems of government".

I assume that Tony is still in the loop and aware of how the 'players' in western diplomatic circles 'think'.

This noble blog has opined: that Obama seems to be dumbfounded; that Obama has repeated the tradition of boldly supporting authoritarian regimes while timidly supporting reform; that Obama et al does not 'get the message' even after a hundred thousand plus chant it.

Now we know why.

T-Blair has confirmed my worst fears: nobody who's anybody actually thought this might happen. Wikileaks showed that we respected Hosni more than Egypt. Tony's words offer further insight into the dull thinking of 'the top minds'.

11 years into the 21st century, T-Blair now thinks it's time to go from 'talking about it' to 'start planning' ...for that which was 'clear' as Y2K rolled around.

11 years? Sorry old chap, but Egypt's regime has cracked in less than 11 DAYS!

It seems that in DC & London, only after the horse has passed through the gate does one begin discussing the idea that the horse might escape.

Poll

Should Obama announce that future aid will only be discussed with a democratically elected government?

68%13 votes
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| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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