Conservatives Tremble In Fear Of Moving Forward

The Obama campaign released the above web video today:

The video outlines the challenges America faced as President Obama took office at the height of the worst recession in almost a century and details the progress that has been made reclaiming the security of the middle class and building an economy that’s meant to last, where hard work pays and responsibility is rewarded.

The name of the video is Forward, leading to speculation today that Forward is going to be the new campaign slogan. If so, they risk being accused of stealing a slogan from MSNBC, which uses Lean Forward. Does this mean Mitt Romney will claim to be Fair and Balanced? Or perhaps Romney, who showed his enjoyment of singing off key on the campaign trail, will respond to Forward by singing a song which describes his philosophy: If We Can Only Turn Back Time.

Those on the right wing who continue the spirit of McCarthyism have responded to this with claims that Forward has long ties to Marxism or to Mao.

Of course, regardless of who might have used this slogan, most do see the advantages in moving forward, as opposed to the guiding principle of the right wing–moving backwards, and forever be in fear of the modern world.

To the frightened reactionaries of the right, the priority is avoiding Marxism, despite the fact that (except in their imaginations) there aren’t enough supporters of Marxism left to present any threat. To the right wing, liberal ideas such as individual liberty and a market economy which everyone has the opportunity to benefit from, as opposed to oligarchy and plutocracy, are terrifying ideas.

Update: Also see Forward to Idiocy

Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Video of Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

The Hill quoted jokes about Republicans and dogs:

As Romney has often critiqued the president’s affinity for the Harvard faculty lounge, Obama noted that the former Massachusetts governor and he both had Harvard degrees. “I have one and he has two,” he said. “What a snob.”

Obama also brought up a theme that has hounded him recently.

In retaliation for Democrats harping on the old story of Romney tying the family dog to the roof of the car, many conservatives have pointed out that Obama ate dog when he was a boy in Indonesia — an admission he wrote in his memoirs years ago. The president tied the dog issue into jokes about a few other popular topics.

In reference to Sarah Palin: “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.”

About politics being a rough game: “My step father always told me it’s a boy eat dog world out there.”

On the rise of super-PACs: The president came equipped with his own mock super-PAC ad that promised “America’s dogs cannot afford four more years of Obama; that is 28 years for them.”

Check out the full video for satire of Republican attack ads and Obama’s secret agenda for his second term. He had even more material prepared, but had to leave to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.

SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Awake; Leonard Nimoy Returning?; The Doctor and the Beatles; R2-Dalek2 & Cyber-3PO

With only two more episodes of Fringe this season, Worlds Apart made huge advances in this year’s arc. Fortunately the show has been renewed for a thirteen episode season next year, most likely so that there will be more than one-hundred episodes for syndication. Knowing that there are thirteen episodes to go will allow the writers to provide a meaningful ending for the show as opposed to a rushed conclusion added to the end of this season. Here is a promo for the final season:!

In Worlds Apart we learned more about David Robert Jones’ plans to create a new world with the collapse of the two earths upon each other. The episode also brought back Nick Lane, who was in the Cortexiphan trials with Olivia. Knowledge of the back stories on Fringe was necessary to appreciate this episode. We’ve seen intermittent flash backs to the days when Walter and William Bell were doing experiments, which were apparently motivated to create soldiers to defend our earth in an anticipated war between the two earths. Shape shifters were developed on the other side with the same motivation. While I am not entirely satisfied with how it happened, this season showed that the use of the machine (also intended by Walternate to destroy our earth)  led to a situation in which the alternate earth is healing and there is no longer conflict between the two sides. Jones, however, has now taken advantage of the weapons developed in this preparation for war for his own ends. Presumably Jones remains a threat which will be dealt with in the two-part season finale.

When the initial attempts to stop Jones failed, a decision was made to turn off the machine and sever the connection between the two earths. This raises questions as to whether turning off the machine will leave each side the same except without this means of crossing over, or if there will be other changes. Walter and Walternate questioned if this might make Peter disappear again. I doubt the would make major changes this late in the season, but another possibility might be that everything would return to how it was before the machine was turned on last season, with both earths on the brink of war.

The episode did wrap up a subplot from this season. Lincoln Lee was clearly infatuated with Olivia, and when she reunited with Peter, Lincoln got the opportunity to meet Altlivia. He decided to go to the alternate universe to be with Altlivia, a decision Peter clearly understood. I wonder if we will see the two of them again in the alternate universe. While the Fringe team lost their easy means of getting there, other means of crossing over were present in past episodes, so this might not be the last time we wee the alternate Fringe team. It is also possible to have scenes on the other side without anyone crossing over. I do hope that we do see more of the alternate earth.

Awake is at its weakest as a police procedural show. The two police cases this week on Game Day were not terribly compelling. The importance of the cases was that they showed Britten how there can be slight differences between the two realities leading to different results. In football, a field goal attempt may or may not be successful, leading to different winners (and different crimes). The ramifications of this became important in his personal life. He learned that Rex’s girlfriend Emma got pregnant before the accident killing his wife, and subsequently had a miscarriage. Back in the other world, Britten realized that although Rex was dead, Emma could still be pregnant with his child, and it was possible that there was no miscarriage. Finding that Emma was still pregnant with Rex’s child will certainly change things for the Brittens, most likely ending their plans to move to Oregon.

I hesitate to speculate too much on questions as to whether one or the other reality is actually real as I’m not convinced the writers have a real game plan for the show. Different arguments can be made based upon different episodes. This episode suggests that both realities are equally valid as once again information from one is carried over into the other. On the other hand, there have been episodes in which things occurring before the accident were different in each reality, suggesting that only one could be the real one which Britten had lived in. A Life on Mars type explanation in which noting is real might be the easiest way to settle such contradictions.

If Britten does not move to Oregon, the plans to call off the hit on him by the people responsible for the accident appears to be back on, providing further drama. However, why was this never an issue in the world where Rex remains alive and Britten never planned to move to Oregon? Perhaps the reality in which  his life lived is the “real” world in which he was set up for the accident, but he also jumps to another pre-existing reality where some things were different, and perhaps the accident really was an accident.

There are rumors that Leonard Nimoy might be making a return to live acting. Since his retirement he has had voice-only appearances on Fringe and The Big Bang Theory. A computer-generated view of him was seen within the Amber on last week’s episode of Fringe. Now there are rumors that he will be appearing on Fringe, possibly this season. A recent CNN interview gives the impression that he might also return to a Star Trek movie.

This picture is not a fake. It appears to show the Doctor (Matt Smith) with the Beatles. Is Matt Smith actually a time traveler? Steven Moffat’s reaction to the picture on Twitter: “Bloody hell!!! Clearly we’re going to make that episode!! Wonder what it will be like.”

How’s this video for mixing up the robots from Doctor Who and Star Wars?

Attacking Obama As A Celebrity

Do Republicans really think this ad will help them and hurt Obama? It is a retread of the old McCain attacks on Obama as a celebrity. This is sure a strange attack line from Republicans who bring up Ronald Reagan’s name every chance the get  (despite the fact that their party has moved so far to the right that Ronald Reagan would no longer be welcome)

The bulk of the ad will help as opposed to hurt Obama in our celebrity-obsessed culture. There are a few moments in which negatives are brought up. These should not hurt Obama as the ad raised problems caused by Republican policies which Obama has been working to solve (with Republicans continuing to try to block him).

Republicans Can’t Handle The Truth: Bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is Alive

The Republican Party has been playing politics with terrorism since the 9/11 attack, in a manner similar to how they played politics with anti-Communism in past decades. Republicans are now upset and in denial about two things: the Democrats have been far more successful on national security and, even worse, they dare to promote their success for political gain. The web ad by Bill Clinton which points out that Barack Obama made the decision to kill bin Laden, while Mitt Romney would not have done the same, has the right wing especially upset.

Right wing blogs are full of utterly senseless arguments to deny credit to Barack Obama for his accomplishment. Many come from a rather irrational post at–a site which specializes in distorting the facts to support right wing narratives. Their argument comes down to attacking Obama for wanting information on the risks involved before proceeding. This sounds quite prudent and provides no evidence of their claim this was to avoid taking the blame if the operation did not succeed. If only George Bush had not ignored warnings about the risks involved in occupying Iraq before rushing to war.

John McCain, the war-mongering jingoist who has never shown reluctance to use war for political gain, actually had the chutzpah to attack Obama for promoting his success against bin Laden. There are endless examples of McCain and the Republican Party using national security for political gain, even managing to capitalize on Bush’s massive failure on 9/11, and claiming “Mission Accomplished” as their policies failed in Iraq. Digby has provided a handful of videos demonstrating how Republicans have used national security. Far more could be added.

Just as the Republicans, who wrecked the economy and have been doing everything possible to slow down recovery, are trying to claim can do more for the economy,  Republican who have gravely harmed our national security are trying to turn this into a political plus for them. It was the Republicans who tried to block Bill Clinton’s actions against al Qaeda, but despite this Clinton showed successes, such as stopping the planned Millennium terrorist plot. George Bush ignored both recommendations passed down from the Clinton administration for handling al Qaeda and ignored CIA warnings before the 9/11 attack. After ignoring numerous warnings before 9/11, Bush made matters even worse by going to war against the wrong country. Even when he had an excellent chance to kill or capture bin Laded at Tora Bora, Bush managed to mess it up.

Republicans object to Obama taking credit for his success because they do not want the facts to intrude upon the false narratives they create to run on. They want to claim to be stronger on national security despite their disastrous record. They want to run on fiscal responsibility despite their policies which are responsible for the deficit as they try to place the blame for their actions on Obama. They want to run as the party of small government and freedom despite a record of increasing the size of government and increasing government intrusion in the private lives of individuals.

Looking at the facts, there is really no question as to which party has been more successful in recent years, as the Republicans have increasingly ignored reality. Democrats have been successful in protecting the country against terrorism, while Republican policies led to a preventable terrorist attack succeeding and to a war which we never should have engaged in. Republican economic polices have been similarly disastrous for the country. Republicans will continue to whine and try to distort the facts, but this does not change the reality that bin Laden is Dead and General Motors is alive.

Bill Clinton On Obama vs. Romney As Commander In Chief

Pew Survey Shows Americans More Liberal on Social Issues

Back in 2004 Republicans used opposition to same sex marriage to increase turn out among conservatives. A Pew Research Center survey shows that attitudes have changed over the last eight years:

47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. In 2008, 39% favored and 51% opposed gay marriage, based on an average of polls conducted that year. In 2004, just 31% supported gay marriage, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.

There is also majority support for keeping abortion legal:  “53% of  Americans say that abortion should be legal in all (23%) or most cases (31%); 39% say that abortion should be illegal in all (16%) or most cases (23%).”

Needless to say, it is Republicans who take the big-government position here, believing that it is the proper role of government to tell people who they can marry and to deny women control over their own bodies. The survey found that 68 percent  of Republicans still oppose same-sex marriage  and 40 percent do so strongly. One good sign is that fewer Republicans oppose it than in 2004.

The survey also looked at guns:

Currently, 49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership. Opinion has been divided since early 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s election. From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.

While Republicans have tried to scare people by claiming that Democrats would take away their guns and Bibles, there are very few Democrats who are pushing for  controlling gun ownership these days, with the  2004 Democratic platform including a statement of support for the Second Amendment.

Obama In Rolling Stone

Barack Obama is on the cover of Rolling Stone. The interview started out with Obama making a point which I think many Democrats have missed. Obama has been criticized for trying to attract Republicans when it is obvious that Republican politicians have no intention to  compromise. They prefer to block anything proposed by Obama for political gain, regardless of how much harm they do to the country. However, in trying to make his policies attractive to Republicans, it is Republican voters, not politicians, who Obama wants to attract. Many are brainwashed by Fox and the right wing noise machine, but Obama showed in 2008 that he can attract enough former Republican voters to win in states where Democrats had not won recently.

Let’s talk about the campaign. Given all we’ve heard about and learned during the GOP primaries, what’s your take on the state of the Republican Party, and what do you think they stand for?
First of all, I think it’s important to distinguish between Republican politicians and people around the country who consider themselves Republicans. I don’t think there’s been a huge change in the country. If you talk to a lot of Republicans, they’d like to see us balance the budget, but in a balanced way. A lot of them are concerned about jobs and economic growth and favor market-based solutions, but they don’t think we should be getting rid of every regulation on the books. There are a lot of Republican voters out there who are frustrated with Wall Street and think that they acted irresponsibly and should be held to account, so they don’t want to roll back regulations on Wall Street.

But what’s happened, I think, in the Republican caucus in Congress, and what clearly happened with respect to Republican candidates, was a shift to an agenda that is far out of the mainstream – and, in fact, is contrary to a lot of Republican precepts. I said recently that Ronald Reagan couldn’t get through a Republican primary today, and I genuinely think that’s true. You have every candidate onstage during one of the primary debates rejecting a deficit-reduction plan that involved $10 in cuts for every $1 of revenue increases. You have a Republican front-runner who rejects the Dream Act, which would help young people who, through no fault of their own, are undocumented, but who have, for all intents and purposes, been raised as Americans. You’ve got a Republican Congress whose centerpiece, when it comes to economic development, is getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency.

If you want to lower the deficit, reduce government intrusion in individual’s personal lives, have lower taxes on the middle class, and a stronger defense against al Qaeda, all things I would expect Republican voters to support, Obama has been the one to offer more sensible positions on these issues.

As for Mitt Romney:
Given all that, what do you think the general election is going to look like, and what do you think of Mitt Romney?
I think the general election will be as sharp a contrast between the two parties as we’ve seen in a generation. You have a Republican Party, and a presumptive Republican nominee, that believes in drastically rolling back environmental regulations, that believes in drastically rolling back collective-bargaining rights, that believes in an approach to deficit reduction in which taxes are cut further for the wealthiest Americans, and spending cuts are entirely borne by things like education or basic research or care for the vulnerable. All this will be presumably written into their platform and reflected in their convention. I don’t think that their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, “Everything I’ve said for the last six months, I didn’t mean.” I’m assuming that he meant it. When you’re running for president, people are paying attention to what you’re saying.
Drug policy is an area where many of us who did vote for Obama were disappointed. He did address this issue:

Let me ask you about the War on Drugs. You vowed in 2008, when you were running for election, that you would not “use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana.” Yet we just ran a story that shows your administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did. What’s up with that?

Here’s what’s up: What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana – and the reason is, because it’s against federal law. I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, “Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.” What I can say is, “Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.” As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.

The only tension that’s come up – and this gets hyped up a lot – is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we’re telling them, “This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.” That’s not something we’re going to do. I do think it’s important and useful to have a broader debate about our drug laws. One of the things we’ve done over the past three years was to make a sensible change when it came to the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. We’ve had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that’s an appropriate debate that we should have.

Changing the legislation is important, and I do wish Obama would propose some meaningful changes. There is no doubt that the medical marijuana laws are used for people to obtain marijuana for uses beyond medical uses. On the other hand, it is clear that prohibition does not work and there is no point in using government to try to prevent the use of marijuana. I back the position of the California Medical Association in having doubts about the system for medical marijuana but believe the answer is to legalized marijuana and get government out of this issue.
Obama showed his support for the free market, while contrasting his views of a market economy from those of the Republicans:

Occupy Wall Street seems to have influenced your rhetoric. Has it had a deeper impact on your thinking about America?

You know, I think that Occupy Wall Street was just one vivid expression of a broader anxiety that has been around in the United States for at least a decade or more. People have a sense the game is rigged, so just a few people can do well, and everybody else is left to scramble to get by.

The free market is the greatest generator of wealth in history. I’m a firm believer in the free market, and the capacity of Americans to start a business, pursue their dreams and strike it rich. But when you look at the history of how we became an economic superpower, that rugged individualism and private-sector dynamism was always coupled with government creating a platform so that everybody could succeed, so that consumers weren’t taken advantage of, so that the byproducts of capitalism, like pollution or worker injuries, were regulated. Creating that social safety net has not made us weaker – it’s made us stronger. It liberated people to say, “I can move to another state, but if I don’t find a job right away, my kids aren’t going to go hungry. I can start a business, but if it doesn’t work out, I’m going to be able to land on my feet.” Making those kinds of commitments to each other – to create safety nets, to invest in infrastructure and schools and basic research – is just like our collective investment in national security or fire departments or police. It has facilitated the kind of risk-taking that has made our economy so dynamic. This is what it means for us to live in a thriving, modern democracy.

One of the major arguments we’ll be having in this election season is a contrasting vision that says not just that government is part of the problem, but essentially that government is the entire problem. These guys, they don’t just want to roll back the New Deal – in some cases, they want to go back even further.

Obama also reads some of the blogs as well as op-ed writers:

Do you read Paul Krugman?I read all of the New York Times columnists. Krugman’s obviously one of the smartest economic reporters out there, but I also read some of the conservative columnists, just to get a sense of where those arguments are going. There are a handful of blogs, Andrew Sullivan’s on the Daily Beast being an example, that combine thoughtful analysis with a sampling of lots of essays that are out there. The New Yorker and The Atlantic still do terrific work. Every once in a while, I sneak in a novel or a nonfiction book.

There’s far more in the full text of the interview.

Quote of the Day

“One of the agents involved in the scandal was on Sarah Palin’s detail in 2008 when he was running for vice president. And he posted a picture on his Facebook – apparently he had a little crush on her – of him standing behind her kind of smirking and saying, ‘I’m checking her out.’ Which is more than you can say for the McCain campaign.” –Bill Maher

Mitt Romney Remains A Weak Candidate, Except Among The Very Religious

Last night’s primaries, occurring after Rick Santorum left the race, turned out to give pretty much the same picture as when there was more of a contest: Mitt Romney will be the nominee, but many Republicans would prefer to vote for someone else. Smart Politics points out the weakness of Romney’s victories:

Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominees played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race.

In every one of these contests, the GOP frontrunner won at least 60 percent of the vote, even when ex- and long-shot candidates remained on the ballot.

But on Tuesday, Romney won only 56 percent of the vote in Delaware and 58 percent in Pennsylvania, home to Rick Santorum who dropped out on April 10th.

While Romney avoided the embarrassment of winning with a mere plurality, never has a presumptive nominee won a primary contest with such a low level of support at this stage of the race with his chief challenger no longer actively campaigning.

Clearly the author doesn’t consider either Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul to be a credible challenger, and the assumption looks valid. Even Newt Gingrich has realized this, dropping out of the race. While Ron Paul’s chances at winning are still the same as at any other point in time,  zero, it will be interesting to see if he manages to receive more primary votes as the last candidate standing, allowing him to take a larger block of delegates to the convention than would otherwise occur.

Jimmy Carter says that, while he would prefer Obama, he would feel comfortable with Romney:

“I’d rather have a Democrat but I would be comfortable — I think Romney has shown in the past, in his previous years as a moderate or progressive… that he was fairly competent as a governor and also running the Olympics as you know. He’s a good solid family man and so forth, he’s gone to the extreme right wing positions on some very important issues in order to get the nomination. What he’ll do in the general election, what he’ll do as president I think is different.”

I would refer Carter to yesterday’s post on this subject. There is certainly a reasonable chance that Romney is more moderate than he now claims to be. It is really impossible to tell what opinions Romney has, or if he even has any, considering the way he can sound sincere while taking either side of any issue. Unfortunately Romney has painted himself into a “severely conservative” corner and will have difficulty moving out. Even should he prefer more moderate positions, it is hard to see him resisting the wishes of a far right wing Congress, which is the most likely result should conditions in the fall favor a Romney victory.

It is clearly far too early to predict who will win. Polls now favor Obama, but they can change by November. I am encouraged by Obama’s strength in most of the battleground states, although he is likely to lose some states he won in 2008. Republicans who were encouraged by a narrow Romney lead in Gallup’s daily tracking poll will not want to see that Obama has jumped to a seven point lead. I suspect that this is more a measure of the uncertainty among many voters as opposed to a major change in positions, but does emphasize the weakness of Romney as a candidate.

Gallup has also found that the usual partisan breakdown along religious lines still holds in a race between Obama and Romney:

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 percentage points, 54% to 37%, among very religious voters in Gallup’s latest five-day presidential election tracking average. Obama leads by 14 points, 54% to 40%, among the moderately religious, and by 31 points, 61% to 30%, among those who are nonreligious.

If this is viewed purely based upon religion, the results might not make any sense considering Obama’s religious views. There are two additional factors in play. Many Republicans are still fooled by the attacks from the right wing noise machine, with a meaningful number still believing Obama is a Muslim. The other factor is that the concern among many on the religious right is not whether a candidate is religious but whether they will use government to impose their religious views upon others. In this case, perhaps the religious right has a better understanding of the outcome of a Romney presidency than Jimmy Carter shows.