State of the Union: Rhetoric to Reality on Expanding Opportunity

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.

At the same time, he invoked “the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you will be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.” In this connection, he announced strategies that we’ve long called for, including vigorous equal opportunity enforcement by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department, abolishing discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans in the military, and pursuing full compliance by employers with equal pay laws for women and men doing the same jobs.

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UPDATED: Hillary Doesn't Look So Bad Now...


Where are these coattails? Virginia gone to the (R), New Jersey gone to the (R) and now Mass. Senate picked up by another (R).

Can't blame Bush tonight can we?

Let's go back two years to help remind the readers:

NYTIMES January 25, 2008  “The sense of possibility, of a generational shift, rouses Mr. Obama’s audiences and not just through rhetorical flourishes. He shows voters that he understands how much they hunger for a break with the Bush years, for leadership and vision and true bipartisanship. We hunger for that, too. But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern.”

How he would govern...I have no idea...he is not standing up for anything....He is just letting Congress run his agenda.

Gitmo is still open, Health Care is going to fail, and what about Don't Ask Don't Tell....They didn't teach this on the campaign trail now did they Mr. President.

What would have Hillary would have done? We don't know...we wanted a nice speaker for President.

Oh and by the way...remember that promise to have open discussions on Health Care and deal making? All behind closed doors. Someone realized you can't make deals in front of the cameras. Hillary knew that.

Can't forget this now:

Chris Matthews, Night of the Potomac Primaries:

 “I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. No, seriously. It's a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.”


At least Hillary would know how to work the system.

Let me end with this....Just proves how good she is.

Clinton named Al-Qaeda Yemen as terror group a month ago 


Here's one thing that didn't make the recent official or press chronologies of the Obama Administration's actions towards Al Qaeda in Yemen: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally designated the group as a terrorist organization back on December 14.

That's 11 days before the attempt to bring down a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day--an act believed to have been organized by Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). However, no one seems to have made Clinton's action public until last Friday, January 15, when the paperwork (see here and here) was submitted for publication in Tuesday morning's Federal Register." Josh Gerstein,

Ah what if, what if. But we will never know. Obama is no Bill Clinton. Obama is no Leader...Obama is only a good Speaker.



Updated: And she just keeps rolling Ladies and Gentlemen. She keeps her on on the diplomatic ball and our current Speaker in Chief can't decide which agenda he wants this week:

Read on:

U.S. will not back down on Iran nuclear issue: Clinton By: Reuters | 21 Jan 2010 | 01:28 PM ET Text Size

WASHINGTON - Major powers are united in working toward pressuring Iran over its nuclear program, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, despite many signals that China is reluctant to impose more sanctions.

Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States met in New York on Saturday to discuss the possibility of placing more international sanctions on Iran.

The West suspects that Iran's nuclear program is a cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran has said the program is designed to generate electricity so that it can export more of its valuable oil and gas.

"We are unified in our resolve to work toward pressure on Iran in the face of their continuing rejection of the overtures by the international community," Clinton said at a news conference, calling Saturday's meeting a "productive step."

Earlier this month China argued in public that now was not the right time to place further sanctions on Iran and it sent only a low level official to attend Saturday's meeting while the other powers sent senior foreign ministry officials.

"Let me be clear: we will not be waited out and we will not back down," Clinton said. "Iran has a very clear choice between continued isolation and living up to its international obligations."


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

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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Pawlenty pushes balanced budget amendment

Not content to push for a balanced-budget constitutional amendment in his own state, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has endorsed the idea of a federal constitutional amendment to require Congress to pass balanced budgets every year. The Wall Street Journal's Amy Merrick observes,

Previous efforts to pass a national balanced-budget amendment have foundered in Congress. Many lawmakers believe deficit spending can help boost the U.S. economy during downturns, and calls to balance the budget sometimes fade as other priorities surface.

It would be insane to restrict the federal government's ability to run deficits during a recession. That's not just something many members of Congress "believe," it's a consensus view among economists. But don't worry, Pawlenty isn't entirely rigid on the subject of deficit spending:

Mr. Pawlenty's proposal for a federal amendment would include exceptions for war, natural disasters and other emergencies. The U.S. has been at war for most of the past decade.

No self-respecting Republican ever let spending worries stand in the way of a blank check for war.

Although it's tempting to laugh at Pawlenty's proposal, I think highlighting the budget amendment could boost his standing in the 2012 presidential race. His idea isn't outside the GOP mainstream; leading Republicans proposed a federal spending freeze instead of the stimulus bill Congress passed in February. Republican politicians in Iowa have also embraced Hoovernomics.

The idea could prove popular with the GOP rank and file too. Mike Huckabee gained a lot of traction in Iowa during the summer of 2007 by being the only Republican to endorse the so-called "fair tax." That idea is even wackier than a federal spending freeze during a recession, but many caucus-goers embraced it.

Any comments about Pawlenty's prospects or the Republican presidential field are welcome in this thread.

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Americans Believe in Government...When it Works

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."

Most Americans carry around at least two stories of government in their heads.  One is the story of government as problem solver, as fair referee, and as investor in shared prosperity.  It is the government of first responders, of Iwo Jima, of gifted teachers, Head Start and Social Security.  The other story is of government as bloated bureaucracy, as tax-and-spender, as bungler, and as rights violator.  It is the government of the DMV, of Vietnam, of lazy teachers, of FEMA and Hurricane Katrina.  More important than ideology for these Americans is how facts on the ground seem to reaffirm one story or the other.

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