Do You Have to be Born Rich to Become President?

by: Inoljt

Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 19:06

By: Inoljt,

When Senator Barack Obama was elected president, his victory was widely taken as a momentous event. In racial terms, Mr. Obama constitutes the first minority president of the United States. This is quite an impressive feat - something that many Americans did not think could be done as late as 2007.

From another perspective, however, Mr. Obama's election looks less impressive. This perspective is that of class. Mr. Obama was raised by an upper-middle class family: his mother was an anthropologist who had a PhD degree, and Mr. Obama went to a fairly prestigious private school in Hawaii during his early years.

The last president, Mr. George W. Bush, was also born to a wealthy family - in this case far higher up the social ladder than Mr. Obama's family.

All this raises the question of whether one must be born with parents of a certain income to become president of the United States.

More below.

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Why Republicans Will Never Nominate Sarah Palin for President

by: Inoljt

Tue Dec 14, 2010 at 01:51

By: Inoljt,

Former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin is one of the most influential Republican figures today. Her "mamma-grizzly" endorsements have won a surprising number of victories, and much of the Republican base holds admiration for her. It is almost natural, then, that many pundits consider her as a front-runner or strong candidate for the 2012 Republican nomination.

Democrats like this. They salivate at the prospect of a Palin candidacy, believing that her unpopularity with non-Republicans will enable any standard-fare Democratic candidate to crush her in a presidential election. This belief is probably true; it would take a remarkable set of circumstances for Ms. Palin to win a general election against Mr. Obama.

But Republicans know just as well as Democrats do that Ms. Palin could not win a general election. That is why they will never nominate former governor Sarah Palin for president, no matter how popular she is amongst the Republican base.

More below.

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Weekly Pulse: What Do GOP Gains Mean for Health Care? Abortion Rights?

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:53

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Republicans gained ground in last night's midterm elections, recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate. The future House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wasted no time in affirming that the GOP will try to repeal health care reform.

A full-scale repeal is unlikely in the next two years because the Democrats have retained control of the White House and the Senate. However, Republicans are already making noises about shutting down the government to force the issue. The House controls the nation's purse strings, which confers significant leverage if the majority is willing to bring the government to a screeching halt to make a point.

Don't assume they'll blink. The GOP shut down government in 1995, albeit to its own political detriment. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his allies have sworn a "blood oath" to shut down the government, regardless of the consequences. The Republicans may actually succeed in modifying minor aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the controversial 1099 reporting requirement for small business.

The most significant threat to the implementation of health care reform may be at the state level.  Republicans picked up several governorships, and the Affordable Care Act requires the cooperation of states to set up their own insurance exchanges. Hostile governors could seriously impede things.

Mixed results for radical, anti-choice senate candidates

As a group, the eight ultra-radical, anti-choice Republican Senate candidates had mixed results last night. Three wins, two sure losses, and three likely losses that haven't been definitively called. Voters didn't seem thrilled about electing senators who oppose a woman's right to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

Two cruised to victory: Rand Paul easily defeated Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky.  Paul is one of the most extreme the of a radical cohort. As Amie Newman reported in RH Reality Check, Paul doesn't even believe in a woman's right to abort to save her own life. In Florida, anti-choice standard bearer Marco Rubio defeated Independent Charlie Christ.

Another radical anti-choicer, Pat Toomey, who favors jailing abortion providers, narrowly edged out Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

Two were soundly defeated. Evangelical code-talker Sharron Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and anti-masturbation crusader Christine O'Donnell lost to Chris Coons in Delaware.

The last three radical anti-choice senate candidates were down, but not, out as of this morning. Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett leads Republican Ken Buck by just 15,000 votes out of over 1.5 million ballots cast, according to TPMDC. Planned Parenthood launched an 11th hour offensive against Buck because of his retrograde stances on abortion, sexual assault, and other women's issues, as Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent.

This morning, Tea Party Republican Joe Miller was trailing behind incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who challenged him as an Independent, but no winner had been declared. In Washington State, Democrat Sen. Patti Murray maintains a 1% lead over radical anti-choicer Republican Dino Rossi.

Are fertilized eggs people in Colorado?

Coloradans won a decisive victory for reproductive rights last night. Fertilized eggs are still not people in Colorado, as Jodi Jacobson reports for RH Reality Check.

Amendment 62, which would have conferred full person status from the  moment of conception, thereby outlawing abortion and in vitro  fertilization. It also called into question the legality of many forms of  birth control, including an array of medical procedures for pregnant  women that might harm their fetuses. The proposed amendment was  resoundingly defeated: 72% against to 28% in favor. This is the second  time Colorado voters have rejected an egg-as-person amendment.

Blue Dogs and anti-choice Dems feel the pain

Last night was brutal for corporatist Democrats who fought the more progressive options for health care reform and Democrats who put their anti-choice ideology ahead passing health care. In AlterNet, Sarah Seltzer reports only 12 of the 34 Democrats who voted against health care reform hung on to their seats. The Blue Dog caucus was halved overnight from 56 to 24. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones speculated that the midterms would mark the end of the Stupak bloc, the coalition of anti-choice Democrats whose last-minute brinksmanship could have derailed health care reform.

Did foot-dragging on health care hurt Democrats?

Jamelle Bouie suggests at TAPPED that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing a health care reform bill that won't provide tangible benefits to most people for years. The exchanges that are supposed to provide affordable insurance for millions of Americans won't be up and running until 2014.

In Summer 2009, Former DNC chair Howard Dean predicted that the Democrats would be penalized at the polls if they failed to deliver tangible benefits from health care reform before the midterm elections. That's why Dean suggested expanding the public health insurance programs we already have, rather than creating insurance exchanges from scratch.

Sink, sunk by Scott

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones profiles Rick Scott, the billionaire health clinic mogul, corporate fraudster, and enemy of health care reform who spent over $50 million of his own money to eke out a very narrow victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida governor's race.

Apparently, many Floridians were willing to overlook the fact that Scott had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare, the largest fine of its kind in history. Scott also spent $5 million of his own money to found Conservatives for Patients' Rights, one of the leading independent groups opposing health care reform.

Pot isn't legalized in California

California defeated Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for personal use. David Borden of DRCnet, a pro-legalization group, writes in AlterNet that the fight over Prop 19 brought legalization into the political mainstream, even if the measure didn't prevail at the polls. The initiative won the backing of the California NAACP, SEIU California, the National Black Police Association, and the National Latino Officers Association and other established groups.

So, what's next for health care reform? The question everyone is asking is whether John Boehner will cave to the extremists in his own party and attempt a full-scale government shutdown, or whether the Republicans will content themselves with extracting piecemeal modifications of the health care law.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

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Watching Young Obama

by: Inoljt

Fri Aug 06, 2010 at 20:24

By: Inoljt,

Out of the many politicians in America's democracy, President Barack Obama is unique in several ways. For one, the books authored under his name are actually written, beginning to end, by himself. In Washington politicians author many books, but very rarely are the words their own; the tradition is to use a ghostwriter.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Obama did take some steps to promote his first book - Dreams From My Father. One such interview provides a revealing hint of his early philosophy:

Part two can be found here; part three is here.

More below.

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State of the Union: Rhetoric to Reality on Expanding Opportunity

by: The Opportunity Agenda

Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 15:09

President Obama’s State of the Union address and the Republican Response by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell each called, as they should have, for a renewed focus by government on jobs and the economy.  Within that broad charge, however, there was another, more surprising, point of agreement—at least at the rhetorical level.  Both speeches challenged our government to focus simultaneously on creating greater and more equal opportunity.

The President declared that “we need to invest in the skills and education of our people,” and announced initiatives that The Opportunity Agenda has long promosted, including sidestepping banks to provide increased college aid directly to disadvantaged students through Pell grants and tax credits instead of loans, doubling the child care tax credit, incentivizing job creation through our tax code, and moving forward on commonsense immigration reform.

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Biweekly Public Opinion Roundup: The Economy, Race Relations, and Entering a New Decade

by: The Opportunity Agenda

Mon Jan 04, 2010 at 12:37

The end of a year – and especially the end of a decade – warrants both retrospective reflection and predictions of what is to come.  Currently there seems to be much consensus, especially around the 2000s as a decade of struggle and decline for the US.  There is a silver lining, however, in the cautious optimism around the issue of race relations.  As the decade comes to a close, it is still clear that the US is entering the 2010s with much work to do, particularly with the economy and unemployment.  Below is recent public opinion on the past decade, the current climate, and what may be in the next ten years.
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Fox News

by: Inoljt

Thu Dec 10, 2009 at 16:44

Like many of you, I like to watch movies. Even today, they're still a lot of feel-good, old-fashioned hits that make your heart warm. Things like Slumdog Millionaire and National Treasure.

In National Treasure - the sequel, that is - there exists a scene in which the main character kidnaps the president; its necessary to "find the treasure." It's one of the scenes I remember, not because it's particularly memorable or even good, but because of what the scene expresses. The movie respects the president. He's fundamentally a decent guy or gal who's going to do the right thing in the end. For that, the president deserves our respect. And in National Treasure, he gets it.

Perhaps a lot of more sophisticated persons might view these sentiments as naive. But I'm sure many viewers of Fox News have the same, old-fashioned beliefs. With regard to George Bush in particular, I'm sure many of them believed that he was decent man trying to do the right thing for our country. Whatever his mistakes, he deserved our respect.

Which is why it so disturbs me to watch Fox News today. The channel's attitude is consistently disrespectful to our president. Fox commentators are free - are encouraged, in fact - to ridicule and malign the leader of our nation. They operate from the assumption that Barack Obama is not a decent man and that he does not want to do the right thing for the country. They seem to think that our commander-in-chief is an enemy or something, just because he happens to be a Democrat.

That's bad. It's bad for the president. It's bad for our country, because a polarized nation with a paralyzed leader is always in a state of weakness. Think about Iran today. It's even bad for Fox News and the Republicans, because when they do come up with legitimate criticism - the president's not going to listen anymore. They'll have long lost all their credibility.

Maybe I'm just an old-fashioned type of guy, but I think that our president deserves respect.


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Americans Believe in Government...When it Works

by: The Opportunity Agenda

Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 14:34

On issue after issue, President Obama is locked in a struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people.  At issue-transcending health care reform, economic stimulus, the bailout of banks and automakers, and beyond-is the role of government in our society.

The president is well aware of the terms of this struggle.  As he told NBC News in September, "It's an argument that's gone on for the history of this republic, and that is, 'What's the right role of government? How do we balance freedom with our need to look out for one another?' . . . This is not a new argument, and it always evokes passions."

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2008 Electorate: Looking Back

by: dreaminonempty

Sat Oct 31, 2009 at 11:02

After a year it's worth looking back to when the United States elected a Democrat to the office of President of the United States with a majority of popular votes, the electoral college, and no input from the Supreme Court for the first time in 32 years.  The changes in the behavior and composition of the electorate over those 30 years have been dramatic.  The maps below show 2008 results and compare them to 1988.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Click to enlarge.

More maps and analysis for the nostalgic can be found in a diary here.

This diary is the introduction to a series exploring the electorate of 2008.

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Why We Can't Wait on Solving the Climate Crisis

by: Andrew Davey

Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 12:49

(Proudly cross-posted at OC Progressive & My Silver State)

New Orleans may sink into the sea by 2100. Much of Florida may also be underwater by then. Drought will likely become the norm out West, meaning California could no longer provide the food we depend upon. Las Vegas may become downright inhabitable.

No, I'm not fabricating any of this. These will be the consequences of inaction if we continue to delay implementing the solutions we need to solve the coming climate crisis. But for some reason, may of our supposedly wise lawmakers in Capitol Hill are either willfully ignorant of the facts or downright lying about our future.

Seriously, we can't allow any more of this.

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Public Opinion Round Up: Demand for Health Care Reform and of What Kind

by: The Opportunity Agenda

Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 13:39

As lawmakers consider a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system, we analyzed the most recent public opinion findings, and present them below. The highlights include: 1. Demand for major reform of the system immediately, 2. Guaranteeing that everyone has access to health care is very important, 3. Americans live in fear of loosing their health care coverage, and finally, 4. Public attitudes on reform are reminiscent of those in 1993.

Demand for fundamental change or reform of the system now.

86% say that they view health care reform as an integral part of tackling the nation’s economic crisis - survey by the University of Michigan financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

71% say that the health care system needs to be completely rebuilt (41%) or needs fundamental changes (30%) - Pew Research Centerpoll, June 10-14.

61% say that it is more important than ever to take on health care reform now especially given the serious economic problems facing the country - Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, June.

43% of voters think that their ability to get affordable health care will become worse than before the current economic situation, 30% that it will become better, and 22% that it will go back to the way it was before - ABC News June poll.

1 out of 2 Americans are worried about paying for future care, and one out of four fear of losing coverage in the next year survey by the University of Michigan financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

What kind of change.

A majority (53%) think that changing the system so that all Americans are guaranteed access to all medically necessary care is a more important goal than finding a way to limit the overall annual increase in health care costs (36%). In 1993, that the results to the same question were 74% to 20% respectively - Pew Research Center.

Prevention oriented health care: 76% of voters believe the level of funding for prevention should be increased. Support is high across the political spectrum, and demographic groups (for instance 86% of Dem, 71% of Rep, and 70% of Ind) -Democracy Corps Survey, May ’09.

72% of Americans state health care is a human right in a ’07 survey of Americans by Belden Russonello and Stewart for The Opportunity Agenda. Extended focus group research among specific demographic groups that make up 60% of the population, indicated that health care is seen as a “basic necessity” for survival like food and shelter, as well as needed to fulfill the human right to “pursuit of happiness.”

Reduction of health care premiums and costs, and security are the most important elements of a reformed system for Americans, including “that no one would ever again lose coverage and no insurance company could drop a consumer or raise rates for pre-existing conditions, health, gender or age” - Democracy Corps June 2009.

Public attitudes on health care and their expectations for reform have not changed. Similarly to 1993:

A large majority wants change. Almost 60% are dissatisfied with the current health care system, and three-quarters say health care should be either completely rebuilt or reformed in major ways. Dissatisfaction is higher among those who lack coverage, unemployed, and married women.

Public wants reform but is risk averse. A large majority is dissatisfied with the health insurance system in the U.S. but only a small minority (24%) is dissatisfied with their own health insurance plans- and here lays the people. Based on focus groups by Democracy Corps following their survey [and by others including research by Belden, Russonello and Stewart for The Opportunity Agenda] are showing people are not satisfied [but rather risk averse] - they have traded off wage increases, stayed in a job rather than leave, paid into a high-deductible plan, and made other compromises so they can have insurance and their choice of doctor when they need it. But that makes those voters who want reform risk averse — they want to confirm key elements in the plan.

39% think that they and their family would be better off if the President and Congress passed health care reform, while 36% think that it wouldn’t make a difference.

The president's plan is favored by a small majority (45%), and opposed by 36%.
The above findings are based on a new Democracy Corps June survey where Stan Greenberg, pollster for Clinton at the tenure of his effort for health care reform, replicated questions he asked in 1993 for the President. Greenberg is convinced that “the country will support comprehensive health care reform — if progressives respect how voters will assess our plans, provide key information about how reform will work (particularly to reduce costs) and if the President carries forward with his educative role.”

Visit The Opportunity Agenda's website for more.

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Health Care Battle Shaping up as Obama vs...Wyden?

by: torridjoe

Tue Jun 09, 2009 at 13:44

No, it's not a typo. As the health care debate quickly becomes a core schism between tweaking the current private insurance scheme and establishing a robust public option to compete against it, not only are the President and Oregon's senior Senator currently holding opposite ground on the matter, both are beginning to harden their rhetoric and dig in their heels. What's even more surprising is that Senator Wyden is slowly emerging as the standard bearer of REPUBLICAN opposition to a public option, gathering supporters for (or allowing them to hide behind) his significant but ultimately nontransformational proposal for reform.

Think I'm making that up? {Jump below for the case...}

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Rush Limbaugh for President

by: tremayne

Mon Mar 02, 2009 at 21:26

In the LA Times today Michael McGough is pushing Rush Limbaugh for Congress. It would put Limbaugh, he argues, in a better position to help President Obama fail.

I think instead that Limbaugh should make a run for President in 2012. First, he's already the de facto head of the GOP as Rahm Emanuel pointed out yesterday.

This fact became even more clear in the last 24 hours. Yesterday RNC head Michael Steele said "No, I am the head of the party" and at the same time criticized Rush and his show. Today Steele is apologizing for those remarks. Limbaugh is easily the most popular figure among GOP voters. If Sarah Palin for VP was such a great idea based on how she fired up the base, increased donations, etc., Limbaugh should clearly be seen as manna from heaven. Imagine the contributions. And unlike Palin he is capable of speaking in complete sentences.

But as popular as he is among the far right, he is simultaneously the least popular media figure on the scene today.  A Gallup poll last month shows Independent voters against him 2-to-1 and a previous Gallup poll from 6 years ago is much the same. Another poll last fall showed Limbaugh less popular that Jeremiah Wright. 

And check out this poll by Rasmussen two years ago showing Rush Limbaugh as, by far, having the highest unfavorables of the media personalities they polled.

Al Franken was among the first to capitalize on the deep well of animosity Americans have for Limbaugh. His 1999 book "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot" spent 23 weeks on the best seller list and helped launched his career as a political commentator and, sometime soon, as a Senator. I think that book may have ultimately made it harder for Franken to be taken seriously as a candidate but, that issue aside, he clearly tapped into a reservoir of Rush hate.

A run by Rush would crystalize everything people already believe about the Republican party and virtually guarantee continued minority party status for the GOP. So I second McGough's call: Run Rush run! For President.

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Recovering Opportunity

by: The Opportunity Agenda

Wed Feb 11, 2009 at 10:17

This week President Obama promoted his much-needed economic recovery package in a prime-time news conference and a trip to economically depressed Elkhart, Indiana, where the unemployment rate has topped 15%.  Cities and towns like Elkhart are bellwethers for where the nation as a whole could be headed without swift and bold governmental action.

As the President said in Elkhart, "That is not only our moral responsibility - to lend a helping hand to our fellow Americans in times of emergency - but it also makes good economic sense. If you don't have money, you can't spend it. And if people don't spend, our economy will continue to decline."

There's another bellwether even closer to home for the nation's first black president.  Unemployment among African Americans rose in January to 12.6 percent, nearly double the current, already high rate of unemployment (6.9 percent) for white Americans.  African Americans struggled throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s to gain equal access to manufacturing jobs, only to see those jobs evaporate with the advent of globalization.  With the weak economy, their inroads into other sectors like education, healthcare, and construction are faltering as well.

What is a daunting economic recession for most of the nation is a crushing Great Depression for many of America's communities of color.  Black male unemployment in New York City, for example, was a staggering 49% before the current recession.  The Native American unemployment rate on reservations is upwards of 80%.

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Marching Toward Justice! Immigration NewsLadder

by: The Media Consortium

Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 18:35



By Nezua Media Consortium Blogger  

Welcome to the new White House administration, in which we move forward with purpose. On President Obama's very first day in office, immigrants and allies marched on ICE headquarters to signify their for change. Racewire reports that yesterday, "hundreds gathered in DC, a day after inaugurating our new president, to demand A New Day for Immigration." George W. Bush waved goodbye by commuting the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean,two former border guards who shot a man trying to escape arrest and then tried to cover their deed up. Bush claimed Ramos and Compean had
"suffered enough" after serving a fifth of their sentence and set them free, though he did not pardon them. Air America reports on the controversial decision in Bush Commutes Border Agent Sentences (video).

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