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Friday Talking Points [195] -- SOTU Review

[ Posted Friday, January 27th, 2012 – 17:27 PST ]

Well, that was an eventful week in politics, wasn't it?

On the Republican side, we've endured two more of a seemingly-unending series of televised debates between the candidates. Newt Gingrich did not physically attack either Mitt Romney or a member of the media, for which we can all be thankful. The deep and pressing issue-of-the-day seriously discussed was putting a manned base on the moon -- which will come as a relief to the legions of voters who have been clamoring for this crucially-important subject to be adequately debated in public.

Sigh. Seriously, you just can't make this stuff up, folks. I guess it's an improvement over arguing over ex-wives. I guess.

To the amusement of Democrats everywhere, the Republican establishment woke up last week and realized Newt Gingrich is now a serious contender for their party's nomination. This led to a blistering broadside from all parts of the conservative media and political universe, who are collectively shuddering in fear of Newt at the top of the ticket this fall. This onslaught has seemed to be effective, so far, as Romney's poll numbers have risen in Florida while Newt's surge seems to have crested. But it's still too close to call, and people vote next Tuesday, so next week will be just as eventful, one assumes.

Over on the Democratic side, we had our annual State Of The Union message from the president, and a successful raid on some thugs in Somalia who had taken two people hostage.

That's quite a contrast, isn't it? No wonder Obama's poll numbers have been going up, of late. But let's get on with the column, because we'll be spotlighting excerpts from Obama's State Of The Union later, in the talking points.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

While it doesn't perfectly fit into this category, we'd first like to extend our warm congratulations to Representative Barney Frank, who just announced his engagement to his partner. We wish these two men every happiness in their married life together.

Barack Obama is worthy of at least an Honorable Mention this week, for giving a great speech Tuesday night, for following it up in swing states across the country, and for giving the green light to the hostage raid. Obama seemed calmly competent throughout all of it, which is quite a welcome change after watching so many Republican candidate debates.

But the real Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was none other than Gabby Giffords, who left the House of Representatives this week to work on her rehabilitation after being savagely shot in the head last year. Giffords' appearance at the State Of The Union and her bipartisan farewell from the House were sad moments in a lot of ways, but also inspiring moments. For a short time, there weren't political enemies in the House intent only on bickering with each other, but instead there were just human beings wishing one of their own well in the future. You don't get moments like that in Washington very often these days, which is why it was so impressive.

Giffords is stepping down now to open up the field for her seat and give a boost to Democrats who are qualified to replace her. If she had waited, it would have been almost impossible for anyone to run against her from her own party, due to her circumstances. By both stepping down and by announcing her husband won't be running for her seat, Giffords has cleared the way for others to follow in her footsteps. This is the mark of a selfless politician, it must be said.

Giffords left with class, and with her head held high. Her journey back from such a grievous wound has been a long one, and we wish her well on her road to recovery. As she is leaving public life, we likely won't be giving her any future awards, so we decided she needed one last Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award as she exits.

[Congratulate Representative Gabby Giffords on her House contact page (while it still exists), to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

We thought we had a good candidate for MDDOTW, but when we looked into the story, two facts precluded the award. First, the guy just survived a recall bid, and second, he is a "non-partisan" politician, because that's the way the town's elections are set up.

We speak of Bob Ryan, mayor of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. His drunken antics made the national news this week right before the recall election, and the details (with photos!) are pretty spectacular -- and not in a good way.

But the award isn't the "MDNPOTW," after all, so we're reluctantly declaring Bob Ryan ineligible. Which, happily, leaves us with no other candidate for the MDDOTW award, as Democrats have been pretty quiet this week (preferring to watch the Republican circus from the sidelines, for the most part).

As always, if we've forgotten someone you feel richly deserves a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award this week, please let us know in the comments.

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 195 (1/27/12)

President Obama's State Of The Union address, many have pointed out, will likely form the core of his re-election message. This is entirely normal, for any first-term president.

What struck me upon hearing the president's speech, and upon reading it over later, was how thematically cohesive the whole thing was. For years now, I (and many others) have been all but begging the Obama speechwriters to develop this theme -- what might be called "What Democrats stand for." Because while laundry lists of policy proposals do indeed have their place, if you don't have an overall vision for the future, they tend to fall flat.

Another way to put this is: a lot of people vote based on emotion, and not cold logic. This is the heart of what lots of people deride as "spin" and "talking points," but that doesn't make it any less true. Emotion is an important part of politics, but Democrats have always struggled to come to terms with this. Democrats are weak on presenting themselves thematically, in many cases.

Barack Obama did a great job campaigning in 2008. After he took office, however, the inspiring oratory seemed to all but vanish from his speeches. He has been doing better on this front -- a fact that many have missed over the past half-year or so -- and in his State Of The Union he proved he's just about ready to take this message to the American people on the campaign trail this year.

The speech was remarkable in the theme it struck, which I would sum up as: "We're all in this together." I have two fairly long excerpts from the speech, the very beginning and the very end, where Obama really hit is stride rhetorically. While touting his own record on several issues, he always managed to weave them back into the overall message.

What is possibly the most striking thing about Obama's message is that he's going to run as a strong foreign policy president -- something that I can't for the life of me remember happening in the past 30 or 40 years. This has, during this period, been seen as a huge weak spot for Democrats, so it is astonishing to see one make it such a core part of his campaign message.

Here is how the president began his speech Tuesday night (or you can read the full transcript, if interested):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs. And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these: In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs.

Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we've agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we've put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again.

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

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

Now, this blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

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

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

What followed was the "meat" of the speech -- the usual laundry list of proposals and ideas. Throughout it all, Obama kept hammering on the same broad themes: Fairness is an American value. We can do this together, if we only try. Things are getting better.

This, as I said, will be the centerpiece of his re-election strategy. Of course, realistically, few of his policy ideas are going to make it through Congress, which could get interesting as the other theme Obama kept returning to was: If Congress doesn't act, then I will do whatever's in my power to change things on my own. This "Do-Nothing Congress" theme has been growing for the past few months, and it is a real winner for the president, seeing how Congress' approval ratings have stayed consistently around 10 percent or so for the past year. The public isn't fond of the bickering in Washington, which leaves a big opening for Obama.

Getting back to the State Of The Union speech, after Obama finished itemizing his biggest priorities for the future, he built to a rousing finish. Once again, the examples he used were from the military, and once again he used them as a metaphor for how America can work together if we only get our priorities straight.

Obama laid out his theme. He laid out how his vision for the future is a better one than his opponents. He defined the Democratic narrative in a clear and resounding way. Democrats running for office next year would do well to follow Obama's lead, and incorporate some of this language into their own campaign messages.

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

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

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

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

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

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: Democrats For Progress
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

34 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [195] -- SOTU Review”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    those closing paragraphs really are brilliantly written. if i'm any judge of an author's voice, i'd say the president wrote most of those words himself.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Fairness is an American value.

    The problem is, the Left and everyday Americans define "fair" much MUCH differently...

    The Left defines "fair" as everyone having an equal share. The only way to achieve this "fairness" is by taking from those that earn and giving to those that are too lazy to earn.

    Every day Americans define "fair" as everyone having the same *opportunity* to succeed. Not giving everyone equal success handed on a silver platter..

    In other words, every day Americans want "fair" defined by a person's actions.

    The Left wants to impose "fair" at the expense of the that work for it, that EARN it...

    The last part of the speech is pretty good..

    Very pretty words...

    I am sure I am going to remind everyone of those words the next time Democrats try to demonize fellow Americans or call Republicans "terrorists", or questions people's patriotism simply on the basis of political disagreement.

    Michale

  3. [3] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    "savagely shot"??? As opposed to "kindly shot" or "graciously shot"? It's a pet peeve of mine that people gild the lily when it adds nothing to the narrative.

    I liked the President's message of fairness. Everyone I grew up with (SW Mo. Hardscabble farms) regarded fair as having the same chance. A level playing field.

    We also knew that the American Dream wasn't "fair". Rich kids got a better shake, but the government was there to give a helping hand. I knew many whose only meal of the day was the Gov't subsidised lunch at school. I only knew 1 person who went to college on his dime. All the rest of us got scholarships from Uncle Sam. I got mine from the Marines ... I knew a buncha them.

    The current crop reactionaries want to save all that money by not giving grants, scholarships, food for kids, and so on. Its a shame. We now have a race of scorpions from the rich.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    I am sure I am going to remind everyone of those words the next time Democrats try to demonize fellow Americans or call Republicans "terrorists", or questions people's patriotism simply on the basis of political disagreement.

    That was not done on the basis of "political disagreement". That happened on the basis of doing everything in one party's power to ensure one president's defeat without any regard, whatsoever, for the well-being of the nation or of its people.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    DerFarm,

    "savagely shot"??? As opposed to "kindly shot" or "graciously shot"? It's a pet peeve of mine that people gild the lily when it adds nothing to the narrative.

    No, as opposed to accidentally shot, as in the vice president accidentally shot his hunting mate in the face. Heh.

  6. [6] 
    akadjian wrote:

    CW-
    Since you mention Bob Ryan, I'd like to introduce you to someone who we may hear more of in the future.

    His name is Asher Heimermann and he recently turned 18. I'm bringing him up because he had the cahunas to challenge Mr. Ryan for Sheboygan mayor.

    http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/local/lakeshore/sheboygan-teen-asher-heimermann-files-to-run-for-mayor

    His bid ended, but I have to give him credit. Hopefully, there's more like Mr. Heimermann to come!

    -David

  7. [7] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    The Left defines "fair" as everyone having an equal share. The only way to achieve this "fairness" is by taking from those that earn and giving to those that are too lazy to earn.

    Every day Americans define "fair" as everyone having the same *opportunity* to succeed. Not giving everyone equal success handed on a silver platter..

    i don't think that's an adequate explanation, and it leaves out the views on the Right. their attitude appears to be that everything is more than fair already and therefore you deserve what you get. just as many on the Left live in a dream-world of everyone deserving to have their needs met as a consequence of existing, the Right assumes that everyone whose needs aren't met must have been too lazy or talentless to earn a better life. that's just flat-out not the case.

    everyday americans believe that people who are smart and work hard should have the resources available to improve the condition of their lives. people who are idle should not be rewarded just for sitting around. the tension here comes because sitting around and exploiting the work of others is currently rewarded at every income level, while hard work is only respected if you're fortunate enough to reach the top of the income scale.

  8. [8] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    The Left defines "fair" as everyone having an equal share. The only way to achieve this "fairness" is by taking from those that earn and giving to those that are too lazy to earn.

    Every day Americans define "fair" as everyone having the same *opportunity* to succeed. Not giving everyone equal success handed on a silver platter..

    You have it all wrong. Americans, far from lazy, work some of the longest hours with the least amount of vacation in first world countries. The capitalist right sees China cleaning our clocks in manufacturing mainly due to China having an nineteenth century industrial age workforce that works long hours at low pay with very little worker protections, child labor law enforcement and a government that is extremely hostile to unions. Therefore the right is pursuing policies that increase the divide between rich and poor while eroding worker protections and other paths of opportunity. To compete in the modern world they see a need for our own cheap down trodden workforce...

    I am sure I am going to remind everyone of those words the next time Democrats try to demonize fellow Americans or call Republicans "terrorists", or questions people's patriotism simply on the basis of political disagreement.

    That's OK, as we will continue to remind you when you do it as well...

  9. [9] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The Left defines "fair" as everyone having an equal share.

    But that's just it, Michale. We don't.

    This is what conservatives say the Left says.

    In my economics book, there's a chapter on liberal, utilitarian, and libertarian views on wealth. The liberal view summarizes the position of John Rawls.

    I'm stealing it because it's very similar to some of my beliefs and just every liberal I know.

    He says, consider this thought experiment. Imagine that before any of us are born, we get together to define the rules for society. In this situation, no one knows where they're going to end up so there is concern for everyone.

    So while you wouldn't want equal distribution because this would take away any incentives in society, at the same time you might want to provide some type of minimum for the poor in case you eventually fell into this category.

    No one believes in equal distribution of wealth. But it makes a great straw man for that very reason, doesn't it?

    Just thought you'd be interested. This is from Gregory Mankiw's "Principles of Economics".

    I bet you can't find me a person on the "Left" (living) who defines fair as everyone having an equal share. At least a person who anyone takes seriously.

    -David

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz

    That was not done on the basis of "political disagreement". That happened on the basis of doing everything in one party's power to ensure one president's defeat without any regard, whatsoever, for the well-being of the nation or of its people.

    I disagree...

    It was a purely political disagreement..

    Do you know how I know?

    Because, in 2008, when it was a Republican President, *Senator* Obama took the EXACT same position that the GOP took...

    Politics, pure and simple..

    And you DON'T call fellow Americans "terrorists" simply for political disagreement...

    Joshua,

    Well said.. I wouldn't argue a thing!!

    Please don't do that too often... I have a reputation to maintain... :D

    Bashi,

    You have it all wrong.

    Of course I do... :D

    That's OK, as we will continue to remind you when you do it as well...

    That's kewl.. We'll compare numbers at the end of the day... :D

    David,

    But that's just it, Michale. We don't.

    *YOU* don't..

    But the Left does....

    Don't make me GOOGLE!!! :D

    No one believes in equal distribution of wealth.

    I say again...

    Don't make me GOOGLE!!!

    I bet you can't find me a person on the "Left" (living) who defines fair as everyone having an equal share. At least a person who anyone takes seriously.

    Your gonna make me GOOGLE, aren't you!?? :D

    OK, but first you'll have to tell me who on the Left you don't take seriously..

    Then I'll have a list of names for you...

    Michale

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    When Senator Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling, he exposed himself as a less than knowledgeable politician and you cannot equate the effect of one ignorant politician against the ignorance of an entire political party in a position to do great damage to the economic well-being of an entire nation and beyond.

    You simply cannot compare the consequences of what Obama did - which were non-existant, by the way - with the consequences of what the House Republicans did to precipitate the downgrade of the US credit rating.

  12. [12] 
    dsws wrote:

    The "debt ceiling" stinks. The original law, supposedly capping the debt at some amount, was dishonest. Every time the "debt ceiling" is raised, that dishonesty is perpetuated. There's much to complain about. A protest vote against a debt ceiling bill is reasonable.

    Actually trying to make the US default on its debt is not reasonable.

  13. [13] 
    dsws wrote:

    OK, but first you'll have to tell me who on the Left you don't take seriously.

    Great. Before you'll lift a finger (literally, from keyboard to mouse and back again) to substantiate your claims, we have to come up with a list of every nobody in the world whose blathering doesn't matter to anyone but could count as "left" if anyone did bother to read it.

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    dsws [11],

    You make a good point ... no, you make a very good point.

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    Obama was (and IS) simply playing politics..

    Again, you know how I know??

    Because when we have a GOP president and the issue of the Debt Ceiling comes up again, Democrats will be right back to being AGAINST raising the Debt Ceiling, AFTER they were FOR raising the Debt Ceiling...

    It's all politics...

    dsws,

    Great. Before you'll lift a finger (literally, from keyboard to mouse and back again) to substantiate your claims, we have to come up with a list of every nobody in the world whose blathering doesn't matter to anyone but could count as "left" if anyone did bother to read it.

    How about President Obama??

    "My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. If you’ve got a plumbing business, you’re gonna be better off if you’re gonna be better off if you’ve got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."

    Call me silly, but when someone says they want to "spread the wealth around", that it's "good for everybody".....

    Well, that sounds an awful lot like distribution of wealth to me...

    Wait for it... Wait for it....

    "That's different".... :D

    Michale...

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    The entire "STICK IT TO THE RICH" meme coming from the Left is all about wealth redistribution..

    As has been amply proven, the rich already pay MORE than their "fair" share..

    The only reason the Left wants the rich to pay more is because the Left believes that the rich can afford to..

    And, in that, they are probably right...

    But that still doesn't change the fact that, no matter how you want to spin it, it's still just redistribution of wealth. From those that earn to those that don't deserve it..

    Michale

  17. [17] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Your gonna make me GOOGLE, aren't you!?? :D

    Google away. Please stick to America though and present day (or at least recent).

    Even the standard right-wing boogeymen like Chomsky only advocate for fairer distribution of wealth. Not equal distribution.

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2008/10/redistribute-the-wealth-yes-but-not-what-obama-proposes/

    Everyone understands that incentives do matter and play a roll in a functioning system.

    The issue we have is that, what happens when the distribution becomes exceedingly unfair. What happens, for example, if one person manages to own everything. Or, as it is in our present day, a few people.

    You might say, well this is just fine. But I'd argue that this is when capitalism needs some help. Because if a few people own everything, they can distort markets, influence government, and basically dictate the terms of prices.

    Riddle me this. In a functioning market, banks would compete for people's money which they could lend out to people at interest. In this type of market, you would tend to see fees being reduced and interest offered on accounts. Does this look like our current market?

    In our current market, banks are competing to see how many hidden fees they can charge. There doesn't seem to be any competition working in the consumers favor. Why? Because, in effect, 6 banks own about 60% of the assets of the country. They, in effect, don't have to compete for market share.

    This is the type of dysfunctional market I'd like to avoid.

    Cheers
    -David

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Not equal distribution.

    OK, fair (no pun intended :D) enough...

    EQUAL distribution was an over-characterization..

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    akadjian wrote:

    EQUAL distribution was an over-characterization.

    And this is why I respect you. Please keep me honest as well if I over-characterize any of your positions.

    BTW- I found a good example where I completely agree with a Republican position. I love Newt's idea to invest more in the space program. Even if it is aimed at Florida, it's still the kind of thing I'd like to see more of from our politicians.

    I believe we need bigger ideas like this. Ideas, that even if they don't completely succeed, may lead to innovations in technology. I think he's been unfairly ridiculed for this in the media. A good idea is a good idea.

    Also, for the record, I'd say that it's also hard for me to find Democratic ideas which I agree with 100%. Literally, I'm hard pressed to find one except the idea that the extremely wealthy should pay their fair share in taxes. I guess the difference is that I feel the Democrats, by and large, are headed in a better direction (much as you likely feel Republicans would take us in a better direction).

    -David

  20. [20] 
    akadjian wrote:

    those closing paragraphs really are brilliantly written. if i'm any judge of an author's voice, i'd say the president wrote most of those words himself.

    Hear, hear ... It's about time we started remembering what country means and that it's not simply a collection of individuals out to gut each other to death in endless competition.

    -David

  21. [21] 
    dsws wrote:

    Call me silly, but when someone says they want to "spread the wealth around", that it's "good for everybody"

    Wanting a policy that's "good for everybody" (what economists call a "Pareto improvement") is universes away from trying to enforce absolute equality, which you were accusing us of supporting.

    The entire "STICK IT TO THE RICH" meme coming from the Left is all about wealth redistribution..

    As has been amply proven, the rich already pay MORE than their "fair" share.

    Wealth redistribution, at least from a liberal perspective, is not about fairness. (As a political tactic, appeals to "fairness" do have a lot to do with it.) Liberals are people who care about liberty, and understand that all concentrations of power are a threat to liberty, not just government -- and that wealth is power.

    A liberal is someone who thinks it's impossible to completely keep money from influencing government, and that therefore there's a level of wealth inequality that's incompatible with liberty, and who prefers preserving liberty over allowing unlimited inequality of wealth.

    People can disagree. Your side would rather have trillionaires, even if it means that any one of their second-tier lawyers wields more power than the least-wealthy 99.9%, than have any governmental policy that would limit the concentration of wealth. It's very hard to argue for or against a position like that. You can argue over means, once you've got some level of agreement about fundamental values. But an argument requires premises, and if there are no premises that people already agree on, there's no way for any argument to persuade one side that they've got something wrong.

    Part of the reason politics is so polarized today is that we have so little agreement on fundamental values.

    [19] akadjian wrote:
    It's about time we started remembering what country means and that it's not simply a collection of individuals out to gut each other to death in endless competition.

    Gutting each other isn't competition. It's conflict.

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    The entire "STICK IT TO THE RICH" meme coming from the Left is all about wealth redistribution..

    close, it's about UN-redistribution. as evidenced by the tax rates of Mitt Romney and others of his income level, the ultra-rich are currently having what's left of everybody else's wealth redistributed TO them. while some lefties certainly want to turn the dial all the way back in the other direction, i think most would settle for just putting it back in the middle.

    As has been amply proven, the rich already pay MORE than their "fair" share..

    it's proven only that you and others on the right think so. you're measuring fairness based not on the percentage of their own money an individual pays, but by the percentage of the average person's money. i've said it before and i'll say it again, that statistic is the worst kind of lie. by percentage of their own income, much less their own wealth, the ultra-rich pay WAY less than the middle and upper-middle classes.

    The only reason the Left wants the rich to pay more is because the Left believes that the rich can afford to...

    that's definitely one of the reasons, but not the only one. money is a kind of power, and liberals (not to mention spider-man) believe that the greater the power you have, the greater the responsibility you have to use it for the public good.

  23. [23] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Gutting each other isn't competition. It's conflict.

    @dsws- I should have been more specific about this comment. I was thinking specifically in economic terms and was referring to a view of competition espoused by conservatives.

    It's a view of competition where people are simply resources who should compete with each other in the open market, and, through this competition lower the price for business. This is what conservatives typically mean when they say competition. It's not competition between companies for consumers. It's competition between individuals to put pressure on wages. This is why many conservatives are against any type of organization (such as unions) which could put upward pressure on wages.

    This is actually the only reason why I believe conservatives are so interested in promoting individualism. It's not because they particularly care about individual rights. But if they can eliminate people working together, they believe it can drive wages lower.

    The 1% usage of "competition" is only valuable so far as it drives wages and benefits lower.

    -David

  24. [24] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    More rightwing CRAP about class warfare from the right.

    Luckily, I don't have to read Michale's bullshit to know what he's saying ... people keep quoting him to "refute" his words. It won't work. His words are not his ... they belong to the vast bumper sticker consipiracy.

    He has said nothing that couldn't and HASN'T been put on a bumper.

    "Fair" does NOT mean equal. Fair Taxes does not mean everyone pays x%.

    Fair means it HURTS the same, in some existenalist sense.

    If you have $10 and I take $2.50 you can only get 2 happy meals from McDonalds. For a family of 3 that means one goes hungry.

    If you have 10,000,000 and I take 2,500,000 you buy 10 McDonalds Franchises @$750K K/per. "Fair" ??? not quite. For a Family of 3 that means that two of you will have to settle for only 3 franchises.

    Let's see: Going hungry vs having only 3 MickeyD's franchises?

    Nah. Not fair. Not even close.

    Now the above is an example of Economic Analysis: Total Bullshit.

    However, the principle is the same: Taking the Same percentage from the rich and the poor is NOT fair. If you are going to fund a social good (getting rid of the debt) you should take MORE from the rich.

    Its called "graduated taxation". It works and is less UNfair than anything else we've got.

  25. [25] 
    akadjian wrote:

    He has said nothing that couldn't and HASN'T been put on a bumper.

    Hey, DF. Or maybe Michale just hasn't heard someone explain the difference between fair and equal.

    To his credit, he did say it was an over-characterization.

    And to be honest, I haven't heard anyone in the media do a good job of presenting the liberal position. I felt lucky that I remember John Rawls' description - but do you ever see that in the media?

    I disagree w/ Michale on a lot of things and it's tough because Michale comes off pretty strong in posts (we've just learned that that's Michale), but until I see otherwise I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's not pushing right-wing propaganda.

    -David

  26. [26] 
    akadjian wrote:

    BTW- I'm loving this thread. So far a couple of excellent reasons why we might want to redistribute wealth.

    From nypoet:
    money is a kind of power, and liberals (not to mention spider-man) believe that the greater the power you have, the greater the responsibility you have to use it for the public good.

    From dsws in a similar vein:
    Wealth redistribution, at least from a liberal perspective, is not about fairness. (As a political tactic, appeals to "fairness" do have a lot to do with it.) Liberals are people who care about liberty, and understand that all concentrations of power are a threat to liberty, not just government -- and that wealth is power.

    I share both of these beliefs/values but would not have thought to phrase this way.

    Anyone else? Thoughts?

    Why don't we ever hear anything this good in the "liberal" media?

    -David

  27. [27] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    akadjian
    In this case, as in so many others, a generational gap is evident. I know Michale. You DON'T know Michale.

    Michale stood by while I was hung from a bridge outside Holly Springs MS. '69 Pages 181-182

    Michale stood by while I stomped into the ground by Nazis in '72

  28. [28] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Con't from 26

    I'm of course using Michale as a pointer to a type. A type that I've seen close up and intimate in a number of circumstances. When I wake up in the morning I go thru a litany of pain that reminds me of Michale.

    I lost my right shoulder in '75 (Birchers, a baseball bat. I was on guard over a sewage ditch while Spanish speaking organizers were working.).

    My left knee to the Posse in '86 in Central West Minnesota. They didn't like Indians getting postal delivery.

    Both ankles to the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party, they were using Nunchucks)) in SF in '82. They didn't like the attempt to start a spousal abuse care unit in ChinaTown.

    All I actually got from the Nazi's in '72 was a ticket for disturbing the peace. From Judge Goldberg. DA Rickstien acceded to the demand of defence attorney Lt. Isaac Scapiro for immediate remander to the Marines. I was fined 2.50 ... and given a carton of Marlboro's as I walked out.

    You don't have to agree with me. I don't care. I know Michale. And America.

  29. [29] 
    akadjian wrote:

    You don't have to agree with me. I don't care. I know Michale. And America.

    Perhaps. I only know Michale online (though I recognize you're referring to a type).

    Who's to know what the actual Michale is like?

    I only know him from his posts here and I enjoy his sense of humor and know he believes that strength is the key to winning an argument. Better strong and wrong as some conservative friends of mine have phrased it.

    I suppose I could argue other things about Michale based on some of the things he's said, but it would largely be reading something into his words without really knowing the guy. I'm just not sure what good that would do either of us.

    It does sound like you have one helluva story though.

    -David

  30. [30] 
    DerFarm wrote:

    Evidence of a mis-spent youth.

    I coulda been chasing women.

  31. [31] 
    dsws wrote:

    Why don't we ever hear anything this good in the "liberal" media?

    For one thing, it's not liberal. It's "liberal" on some of social issues: open bigotry against gays or Muslims doesn't get the same even-handed treatment that flat-earth anti-intellectualism does. That's important too, but it's not liberalism.

  32. [32] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    DF,

    When I wake up in the morning I go thru a litany of pain that reminds me of Michale.

    sounds like you've had quite an eventful life, and i empathize with the feeling that others (myself included) don't appreciate or understand what you've been through. nonetheless, while michale is most definitely a pain in myriad body parts, i don't think it's fair to hold him personally responsible for events in which he most likely was not involved at all. if every single person in the country who has conservative views is held personally culpable for every evil done in the name of preserving misguided traditions, there wouldn't be many people left in the world to talk with. maybe i don't know jack about the civil rights struggle either, but i don't think i deserve to be put in the same sentence as the Klan or the Birchers because of it.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    This conversation has taken a definite turn into weirdsville, if y'all don't mind my saying.

  34. [34] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    This conversation has taken a definite turn into weirdsville, if y'all don't mind my saying.

    yup.

    You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone.
    —Rod Serling

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