mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Internment Camps Were A Travesty”: The Wrong Historical Example To Follow

Less than a week after the recent deadly attack in Paris, Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (D) tried to make the case against helping Syrian refugees, and cited an example from history. “I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” he said, “and it appears that the threat of harm to America from ISIS now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”

The idea that internment of Japanese Americans was a model worth following sparked an outcry; Democratic officials promptly condemned Bowers’ remarks; and the mayor himself apologized soon after.

The moral of the story is simple: internment camps were a travesty. Citing them as an example of sensible policymaking is ridiculous.

Three weeks later, Donald Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R), the co-chair of Trump’s state veterans coalition, defended the presidential candidate’s position last night, telling WMUR, “What he’s saying is no different than the situation during World War II, when we put the Japanese in camps.”

On MSNBC this morning, Trump himself drew the same WWII comparison. Asked if his proposal goes against long-held American values, the Republican frontrunner responded: “No, because FDR did it!” It led to this exchange between Trump and Mark Halperin:

HALPERIN: Did the Japanese internment camps go against American values?

TRUMP: We have to be smart, Mark, and we have to be vigilant.  And if we’re not going to be smart and vigilant, and honestly we also have to be tough. And if we’re not going to be those three things, we’re not going to have a country left.

HALPERIN: Did the internment of the Japanese violate American values?

TRUMP: We’re not talking about internment; this is a whole different thing.

Pressed on whether he believes internment camps were at odds with American values, Trump refused to say, telling Halperin, “Mark, what about Franklin Roosevelt’s presidential proclamations 2525, 2526, and 2527?  Take a look at it, Mark.”

Just so we’re clear, asked about his anti-Muslim plan, Trump initally pointed to FDR and internment. Pressed further, he insisted, “We’re not talking about internment.” And when pressed further still, Trump pointed for FDR’s executive actions on – you guessed it – internment.

In other words, when the Republican presidential hopeful says his anti-Muslim policy is “a whole different thing” from internment, he appears to mean the opposite.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 8, 2015

December 9, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Internment Camps, Japanese Americans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“White Evangelical Voters Are A Fickle Lot”: Giving The “Gays, Guns, And God” Bloc Reason To Stay Home In 2016

For the 2004 presidential election, political strategist Karl Rove resolved to avoid a too-close-to-call repeat of the 2000 contest. He believed as many as 4 million white evangelical voters failed to show up in the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Four years later, President Bush was enjoying high approval ratings as a “war president,” but Rove wasn’t taking any chances. He set out to inflame conservative fear with a campaign strategy built on a theme of “Gays, Guns, and God.”

White evangelical voters are a fickle lot. They don’t support just any Republican. They need to be courted. Wined and dined, you might say. John McCain, who never cared for social conservatives or their penchant for governmental control over private behavior, saw 2 million fewer white evangelical votes than President Bush did four years prior. Even more stayed home in 2012.

In launching his 2016 campaign at Liberty University, Ted Cruz was making clear his intention to be the Republican candidate of the “gays, guns, and God” bloc. But, according to Bloomberg Politics‘ Dave Weigel and Ben Brody, the Texas senator is aiming higher than Rove did. Cruz, they said, is banking on the theory “that 8 million to 9 million white evangelical voters haven’t been turning out. As many as 35 million of their peers had, but if the exit polls were right, enough evangelicals stayed home to lose states like Ohio and Florida” in 2008 and 2012.

So Cruz cut to the chase in Lynchburg: “Roughly half of born-again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine, instead, millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.”

It’s a gamble, as presidential politics tends to be. But his odds are made longer by two factors. One is obvious. Cruz is hoping to double the “gays, guns, and God” bloc — 4 million more than Rove got. The other reason is more complicated, and it has nothing to do with immigration.

Immigration, liberal commentators pointed out within hours of Cruz’s announcement, was a serious concern among white evangelicals. Indeed, immigration may be a wedge issue facing the entire GOP presidential field. In Cruz’s case, he has sounded a jeremiad against “amnesty” since he took office in 2010, but most evangelicals favor, on moral grounds, a path toward citizenship. In other words, Cruz’s position on immigration is stark, while the position of the constituency he is courting is nuanced.

It’s interesting, this search for a wedge issue among Republicans vis-à-vis immigration, but it’s doomed. White evangelical voters don’t vote for things; they vote against them. And they vote against things by voting for the man who’s against them. Cruz does indeed oppose immigration reform — he pulls at the nativist’s heart strings — but that’s not going to deter the “gays, guns, and God” bloc. What deters such voters is a Republican Party insufficiently committed to annihilating gay marriage.

Here, I think, are the makings of a wedge issue. Gay marriage may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a constitutional resolution, but it has been settled socially and culturally, according to public opinion polls. The difference is that we are now seeing that resolution’s political effects. Recent bids by legislatures in Indiana and Arkansas to permit discrimination in the guise of religious liberty were met with vehement resistance, not from liberal activists so much as the Republican Party’s largest and most powerful wing: business. To be anti-gay is now to be anti-business. If Ted Cruz is smart — and he is — he won’t give the business establishment reason to worry.

From the point of view of someone who genuinely believes that homosexuals, in seeking the blessings of marriage, are defying the will of God, this is infuriating. If the Republicans don’t defend “American values,” who will? GOP candidates are clever enough to find ways of dodging the issue. They’ll say they are personally against it, but defer to the will of the people. They’ll say it’s a matter for the states to decide. These are unsatisfying answers, because they don’t reflect the paranoid authoritarian tendencies of white evangelicals.

To be sure, Republicans like Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal are defying the business establishment. In an op-ed on Thursday’s New York Times, he said: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.” You might say he’s pandering to white evangelicals, and you’d be right, but that’s not all. Jindal is probably running for vice president. After Indiana and Arkansas, it’s clear the business establishment does not want an anti-gay plank on the GOP’s 2016 platform. But if the nominee can’t openly defend “American values,” at least Jindal can.

Even so, that ticket — in which the presidential nominee appeases the business wing while the vice presidential nominee appeases white evangelicals — is vulnerable to attack. The Democratic Party’s operatives might consider exploiting it. White evangelical voters are fickle for a reason: they are absolutists. A qualified stand against “the encroaching secular theocracy” is the same thing as surrendering to secularization, which is inconceivable to them. In light of debacles in Indiana and Arkansas, the Democrats can now sow the seeds of doubt: The business wing runs the GOP, so the GOP opposes “religious freedom.” With no where else to go, that might be enough for the “gays, guns, and God” bloc to stay home in 2016.

 

By: John Stoehr, Managing Editor of The Washington Spectator; The National Memo, April 25, 2015

April 26, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, Evangelicals, Gay Marriage, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney, “A Well-Oiled Weathervane”: Character And Core Values May Be His Downfall

More than most elections, the contest for President this fall is likely to be decided less on “wedge issues” — or even candidate positions that are symbolic of who is on whose side — and more on the character and core values of the candidates — and for that matter on the question of the core values of the society we hope to leave to our children.

Last Friday, speaking to the Democratic Caucus Policy Conference, Vice-President Joe Biden told a story that speaks volumes about the character of Barack Obama.

According to Biden, the day before he ordered the raid that finally stopped Osama Bin Laden, President Obama met with his top national security advisers in the Situation Room.  At the close of the meeting, he went around the room asking each person for his or her recommendation on whether to launch the risky nighttime mission.

As it went around the table, Leon Panetta recommended that the President proceed.  Most of the others expressed reservations and handicapped the odds of success as only fair.  Finally, the President got to Biden who said he recommended not proceeding until two additional steps were taken to enhance the odds.

Then the President stood and told his advisers he would let them know of his decision in the morning.

The next day, as Obama stepped onto his helicopter to leave on a day trip, he turned to his National Security Adviser, Tom Donilan, and issued a simple order: “let’s go.”

Much more was at stake in the Bin Laden mission than success or failure killing or capturing the most wanted fugitive of modern times.  In some respects Obama’s Presidency itself was at stake.

To quote Biden, “The President has a backbone like a ramrod.”

Whether or not you like all of his policies — or all of his decisions — it’s hard to argue that Barack Obama is not a tough, decisive guy — a guy who is guided by solid core principles and has a disciplined, laser-focused will. This is not a President that flip-flops in the political wind or is swayed by the last person who talks to him.  Above all, Barack Obama is centered.  He has a solid core built around strong core values.

America — and the rest of the world — have seen those character traits over and over again during the last four years.

They saw them when he announced his candidacy to become the first African American president of the United States — and then organized the highly disciplined, leave-no-stone-unturned campaign that elected him 2008.

They saw that same inner toughness in his — at the time unpopular — decision that saved the American auto industry.

In early 2009, Obama simply refused to throw in the towel on health care reform, when the election of Senator Scott Brown made it appear impossible to succeed — and he won.

Later that year, Obama’s force of will guaranteed the passage of Wall Street reform and the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  And his willingness to just say no to Republican obstructionism last month by making a recess appointment of Richard Cordray, guaranteed that American financial institutions — for the first time — have a regulator dedicated solely to looking out for the interests of everyday consumers.

Obama has remained determined and unflappable in the face of the toughest economic and political environment in sixty years and has emerged from three years of battle ready to wage a highly organized, focused campaign this fall that will center on most fundamental question facing our society: whether we will have a nation where we look out for each other, and have each other’s back — or a society where we are all in this alone.

Obama intends to make this campaign a battle over core values — a choice between a society where we are all responsible for our future, and for each other — or a society where selfishness is our highest value — where “greed is good.” His campaign will frame the choice before America as whether we have a government dedicated to defending privilege — or one whose mission is giving everyone a fair shot, a fair share, and a guarantee that we all have to play by the same set of rules.  His campaign will be about reigniting the values that underlie the American Dream and the hopes of the middle class and all of those who aspire to it.  It will be about restoring fairness and opportunity and hope.

Contrast that kind of President — and that kind of campaign — with Obama’s likely opponent, Mitt Romney.

Right after the 2004 election I was riding in a New Jersey taxicab. The driver was a typical male New Jersey cabbie.  “So what do you think of Corzine?” I asked.” “Oh, Corzine, tough guy.  Like him,” he replied about the then-Senator.

“What do you think of Bush?”  I said.  “Like him too.  Tough guy.  Stands up for what he believes,” came the answer.

“How about Hillary Clinton?”  I asked.  “Tough gal.  Like her,” he said.

“What about Kerry?”  I asked.  “Kerry?  Can’t stand him.  Flip-flopper–a phony.”

Ideology, policy positions — none of that mattered to this cabdriver who liked Corzine, Clinton and Bush.  He wanted a tough, committed leader.  But the Republicans had convinced him of its central message — “John Kerry is a flip-flopper–a phony.”

Bush strategist Karl Rove had sold that version of Kerry — a Senator who in fact has strong core values — largely because of his tendency to “Senate-speak.” He also realized that Kerry’s vote for the Iraq War, and then against continued funding in 2004, could be portrayed as the symbolically powerful flip-flop.  The icing on the cake was Kerry’s explanation of the 2004 vote: “I voted for it before I voted against it.”  Rove illustrated his flip-flop message with an iconic commercial that featured pictures of Kerry windsurfing and tacking one way and then another.

Kerry’s perceived lack of core values was the factor that, more than any other, led to George Bush’s second term as president.

Voters want leaders who believe in something other than their own election.  Quite correctly they want leaders with a strong moral center. They want leaders who make and keep commitments to their principles and to other people. And they want to know that the candidates they support are the leaders they will get after the election — not, as John Huntsman said of Romney, “a well-oiled weathervane”.

Romney has never seen a position he couldn’t change if he determined it would be to his advantage to do so.   He thinks of politics as a business marketing project, where you say what you think you need to in order to maximize sales. Romney doesn’t think of voters as citizens to be engaged — he thinks of them as customers to be manipulated.

As Massachusetts Governor, Romney was pro-choice — now he is anti-choice.

Romney was the author of the Massachusetts health care plan that in many respects served as the model for Obama’s own health care plan.  Now he wants to repeal “Obamacare.”

Romney once refused to sign the “no new tax pledge.”  Now he has signed the “no new tax pledge.”

Romney favored extension of the assault weapons ban.  Now he opposes extension of the assault weapon ban.

Once he said the TARP “was the right thing to do.”  Now he says he opposed it.

Right after the economy collapsed he said he favored an economic stimulus program; now he says he opposed the stimulus bill.

Once Romney said he believed that human activity contributed to global warming; now he says he doesn’t think we know what causes global warming.

One day he was emphatically neutral on Ohio Governor Kasich’s union-busting legislation — that was ultimately “vetoed” by the Ohio voters.  The next day he one hundred percent supported that legislation.

Romney is a guy who, when called on his flip-flops and inconsistencies, said: “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake.”

The reason Romney is having such a difficult time making the sale in the Republican primary contest is that many Republicans don’t think he has strong core beliefs, don’t trust him and think he’s a phony.

Wait until he has to convince swing voters that he’s anything more than a “vulture capitalist” who will say anything and do anything to make the biggest deal of his life — the “acquisition” of the government of the United States of America.

But, you say, maybe he will flip-flop back into a more “moderate” Mitt Romney if he becomes President.  Don’t bet on it.  People who have no core values will sell their services to the highest bidder.  Romney’s Presidency has already been sold lock, stock and barrel to the big Wall Street banks, the CEO class, the multi-millionaires who are behind his super PAC and the Republican Establishment that have financed his campaign.

In fact, throughout his career, Mitt Romney has demonstrated that his only “core value” is his own financial and political success. In Romney’s view, both in politics and in business, every other belief or commitment can be thrown overboard if it weighs him down in his quest for success.  And that goes for the people and communities that were impacted by the “creative destruction” of his corporate takeovers and leveraged buyouts at Bain Capital.  To him, they were apparently nothing more than “collateral damage.”

In the end, it is likely that the ultimate irony of the Romney campaign will be that his own willingness to toss aside positions and values that might at one time or another have appeared inconvenient, will ultimately weigh him down more than anything else.

 

By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, January 29, 2012

February 1, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Obama’s Best State Of The Union Speech

The State of the Union was upbeat and positive, and that’s saying a lot from me, a pessimist. Now I know those on the right will tell you everything that was  wrong with the president’s speech; heck, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Gov. Mitt Romney told  America what they thought of the president’s speech before he even uttered a  word!

Personally, I felt the president hit it out of the park—his best State of the Union speech and hopefully his fourth, not his last.

Starting out with thanking the U.S. military, he pointed out that for the first time in nine years  we’re no longer in Iraq, and more importantly, that we’re safer and we’re more respected throughout the world. And of  course, there was the huge applause when he  mentioned that for the first time in over two decades, we’re no longer fearful of the wrath of Osama bin Laden.

I personally loved when the president referred to how our military  operates, and how we as a nation and how the government should operate: focus on the mission at hand and do it working together. With the lowest approval rating of Congress ever and polls showing that Americans clearly want both sides of  the aisle to work together to get things done, the president, I believe, was  speaking to all Americans and  to all of our frustrations with our government.

I also liked how the president painted a picture of what could be. He pointed out America’s values; except for one remark about the  administration that preceded him, he didn’t blame former President Bush, which I found refreshing and necessary.

He was bold when he specifically stated that the banks were wrong and irresponsible in lending money to people who couldn’t afford to pay it  back.

He gave facts about job loss: 4 million jobs lost before he entered  office, millions more before his policies were implemented.

I found that the president was being humble when he spoke of the jobs that businesses  created–not he, his administration, or Congress.

When the president spoke of American values, it didn’t have to do with church or  religion; it had to do with our work ethic—from American  manufacturing to GM regaining its title as the number one automaker in the world. Even the Republicans had to clap on that one.

And for a president who is constantly accused of wanting to tax America to death, he was talking about a lot of tax credits going  around: tax credits for making  products here in America, tax breaks for  small business owners—rewarding those  who keep and develop jobs here,  and stopping the rewards going to companies that  send their jobs  overseas. (Sidenote: Eric Cantor looked angry about that–hmm…)

Then the president went on to other things America values, other things that make  our nation great, and what could make us greater: education. He linked education  with the ability to increase a person’s  income in the future. And he made it  personal when he spoke of every  person in the chamber who has a teacher they liked, remembered, etc. I  found myself nodding at that remark.

He reached out to Hispanics with the DREAM act, although never  mentioning it by name. He touched the unions in speaking about manufacturing, teachers, and the  auto industry. And he even gave a  shout out to us ladies with the desire for us  to earn equal pay for the  jobs we do that men do. (Woo hoo!)

The bottom line is, although this speech is about governing, it is a  campaign year. I felt the president reminded Americans of where we are, how far we’ve come, and where we could be headed with him at the helm. He spoke of the facts  rather than the fiction Americans so often  hear in the media. And if America were a ship, he showed us with his words that he is more than up to the task of being the ship’s captain for the next four years.

 

By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Vision Of Optimism And Equal Opportunity: What It Means To Be A Democrat

I’m glad I waited for President Obama’s heralded budget speech Wednesday before criticizing it (such a novel idea); there was much to praise in it and little to challenge. The best news: Obama laid out the kind of sweeping “story” of American democracy, and the bold vision of how we grow together, that I thought was too much to ask for even yesterday. He even talked about the scariest fact of American inequality: The dangerous hold the top 1 percent of Americans has on wealth, income and (he didn’t say this) politics. He pushed back on the cruel GOP deficit plan, made his toughest case yet for tax hikes on the richest, and stayed away from the worst ideas floated by his own deficit commission. The devil will be in the deficit-cutting details, and frankly, there weren’t a whole lot of them in the speech. But the president came out fighting with firmness, and with a rhetoric of social justice and equality, that I haven’t seen enough of these last two years.

Obama acknowledged our American history as “rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government.” But he quickly identified “another thread running throughout our history”:

A belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result.

Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. “There but for the grace of God go I,” we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.

So far, so good. It got even better when Obama took direct aim at Paul Ryan’s cruel and ludicrous budget plan. He laid out its many cuts, and concluded:

These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them. Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the United States of America – the greatest nation on Earth – can’t afford any of this.

Then he attacked the Gilded Age social inequality and tax cuts that have helped create our troubles:

Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.

Indulge me here, because this is how Democrats should be talking, and rarely do:

The America I know is generous and compassionate; a land of opportunity and optimism. We take responsibility for ourselves and each other; for the country we want and the future we share. We are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives.

This is who we are. This is the America I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.

That’s the president I voted for.

On the meat of the president’s plan to cut the deficit: He deserves credit for rejecting Medicare vouchers, for turning aside specific talk about Social Security (even though it has nothing to do with the federal deficit, the privatizers and Obama’s friends on his deficit commission wanted it thrown on the table in a grand bargain that can only be bad news for Democrats and working people; Obama seemed not to be willing to do that); for promising that reforms and innovations already part of the Affordable Care Act will bring down the costs of Medicare and Medicaid; and for saying we need bigger defense cuts than so far proposed.

(Small point: I liked the way Obama trashed Ryan without mentioning him — you don’t fight down — but I wish he’d been a tiny bit more confrontational on exactly what Ryan’s “Medicare vouchers” would do; if seniors could afford insurance at all, which is debatable, they’d certainly be at the mercy of privatized “death panels” refusing care over its costs. I say that because I’m sure some GOP prevaricator will bring back the “death panel” lie now that Obama has committed to curbing costs in Medicare. I hope I’m wrong.)

My quibbles? I’m still concerned that Obama has agreed to freeze the 12 percent of the budget that goes to “discretionary spending.” And I’m assuming that freeze includes the cuts made this week. I don’t like his promise of $3 in spending cuts for every dollar raised in revenue via tax hikes. In a statement, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka praised the speech but added: “President Obama does not yet have the balance right between spending cuts and new revenue.” I also never like it when Obama undermines himself by saying things like:

I don’t expect the details in any final agreement to look exactly like the approach I laid out today. I’m eager to hear other ideas from all ends of the political spectrum.

I know, I know, he thinks it makes him sound reasonable to independents; I worry he sounds weak to Republicans. If Obama thinks the plan he laid out is as far to the left as Ryan’s plan is to the right, and that the answer is to meet in the glorious middle, we’re all in trouble.

But for today, I’ll take him at his word. After the speech, pundits called it the opening salvo of the Obama 2012 reelection campaign, as though there was something wrong with that. If these are the founding principles of the president’s 2012 campaign, Democrats and the country will be better off than we’ve been in a while. 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 13, 2011

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Independents, Jobs, Medicaid, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Social Security, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: