Lies On Parade

By Kevin Baker
Published on
How do I lie to thee? Let me count the ways.

There were so many last night at the Republican National Convention—and I don’t mean just the usual convenient, half-apologetic, hey-what-do-you-expect-it’s-politics lies that conventions have been delivering by the bushel ever since the Anti-Mason Party convened the very first national political convention in America in 1831 (to nominate William Wirt, a Mason).

Nor do I mean the sort of standard, jingoistic, chest-thumping lies that all powerful nations have to feed themselves to keep the dreadful business of nationalism staggering forward until it collapses in a heap of Soviet-style self-contradictions and inanities.

No, I mean really imaginative, mind-boggling, pure-evil-genius lies, almost exquisite as an example of the genre. The bad news for America is that after a night of alarming drift and dysfunction, the Republican Party is back on its game, presenting a lineup of political professionals in the tried-and-true Donald Segretti-Lee Atwater-Karl Rove ratfucker mode. This dream team relentlessly hammered home the three or four agreed-upon talking points—over and over and over again—and thereby crafted a shiny new assault-rifle clip of meretriciousness.

How shall I count the ways?

The biggest lie by implication, the one that the mainstream media has focused on, was tossed out last night by the new Blue-Eyed Mr. Death of the right, Paul Ryan. In a meticulously crafted bit of legalese, he managed to blame President Obama for the GM plant shuttering in Janesville—an act that completed the long, sad deterioration of another small American city into a festering ruin, all under Ryan’s utterly indifferent watch. (Take a look at Danny Wilcox Frasier and Charlie LeDuff’s superb Mother Jones photo essay.)

The plant actually closed down in December 2008—when sitting president George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and the entire Republican Party were still advocating that the American auto industry curl up and die. But Ryan suggested that Obama had broken a “promise” made when, during a campaign stop in Janesville in 2008, the candidate expressed the “hope” that the plant would remain open for another hundred years. (Later on last night, in a brazen MSNBC interview, the same point was made by Ryan’s tag-team pal, Scott Walker.)

But never mind. This was hardly the most outrageous lie last night. We also got to hear amazing lies of omission, lies of commission, lies with statistics, the Big Lie, and any number of small, needling, sociopathic lies that even the Republican handlers probably can no longer discern from reality.

Some examples? Sure. How about Senator John McCain, in the most grotesque speech of his life, asserting that “an American president always, always, always stands up for the rights, and freedoms, and justice of all people”—or at least did, until Barack Obama.

How about Senator John Thune condemning “the arrogance of a president whose first instinct is to condemn achievement.” That’s right, Barack Obama goes about “condemning achievement.”

How about Ohio businessman Steve Cohen, a prime-time speaker, condemning the president’s “war on coal”? Or Tim Pawlenty asserting that Joe Biden is not “a real vice president”?
Want sloppy, uncaring, historical lies from the party that talks incessantly about its love of the American past? Well, here’s Mike Huckabee sounding off on the “Founding Fathers of our great nation” and crafters of our “magnificent Constitution,” many of whom “died to pass on that heritage.”

Sorry, save for Alexander Hamilton, who was shot dead in a duel because he considered the sitting vice president to be a devious, lying asshole, all of those Founding Fathers died peaceful deaths. (Something tells me that today’s G.O.P. leaders would’ve been fighting duels almost continually if they had been around in 1804.)

Want a geopolitical lie?
Here’s Condi Rice claiming that “our friends and allies” abroad, “from Israel to Colombia, from Poland to the Philippines,” no longer “trust us.” A domestic lie? Here’s New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez claiming that Democrats “have not even passed a budget in Washington, D.C., in three years.”

Martinez, easily the most obnoxious speaker on a night that was a nonstop battle for that distinction, also strongly implied that to request Mitt Romney’s tax returns is to “demonize the American dream.” No doubt that was the implicit dream of our Founding Fathers as they fell dying on the battlefield: a world in which nobody would fight a fossil fuel, condemn achievement, or close the Janesville GM plant.


Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law, 5-4, in Victory for Obama

Published: June 28, 2012 
New York Times 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members.

The decision was a victory for Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats, affirming the central legislative achievement of Mr. Obama’s presidency. 

“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” 

At the same time, the court rejected the argument that the administration had pressed most vigorously in support of the law, that its individual mandate was justified by Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. The vote was again 5 to 4, but in this instance Chief Justice Roberts and the court’s four more conservative members were in agreement. 

The court also substantially limited the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides health care to poor and disabled people. Seven justices agreed that Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority by coercing states into participating in the expansion by threatening them with the loss of existing federal payments. 

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who had been thought to be the administration’s best hope to provide a fifth vote to uphold the law, joined three more conservative members in an unusual jointly written dissent that said the court should have struck down the entire law. The majority’s approach, he said from the bench, “amounts to a vast judicial overreaching.”
The court’s ruling was the most significant federalism decision since the New Deal and the most closely watched case since Bush v. Gore in 2000. It was a crucial milestone for the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, allowing almost all — and perhaps, in the end, all — of its far-reaching changes to roll forward. 

Mr. Obama welcomed the court’s decision on the health care law, which has inspired fierce protests, legal challenges and vows of repeal since it was passed. “Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law,” he said at the White House. 

Republicans, though, used the occasion to attack it again. 

“Obamacare was bad policy yesterday; it’s bad policy today,” Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in remarks near the Capitol. “Obamacare was bad law yesterday; it’s bad law today.” He, like Congressional Republicans, renewed his pledge to undo the law. 

The historic decision, coming after three days of lively oral arguments in March and in the midst of a presidential campaign, drew intense attention across the nation. Outside the court, more than 1,000 people gathered — packing the sidewalk, playing music, chanting slogans — and a loud cheer went up as word spread that the law had been largely upheld. Chants of “Yes we can!” rang out, but the ruling also provoked disappointment among Tea Party supporters.  
In Loudoun County, Va., Angela Laws, 58, the owner of a cleaning service, said she and her fiancĂ© were relieved at the news. “We laughed, and we shouted with joy and hugged each other,” she said, explaining that she had been unable to get insurance because of her diabetes and back problems until a provision in the health care law went into effect. 

After months of uncertainty about the law’s fate, the court’s ruling provides some clarity — and perhaps an alert — to states, insurers, employers and consumers about what they are required to do by 2014, when much of the law comes into force. 

The Obama administration had argued that the mandate was necessary because it allowed other provisions of the law to function: those overhauling the way insurance is sold and those preventing sick people from being denied or charged extra for insurance. The mandate’s supporters had said it was necessary to ensure that not only sick people but also healthy individuals would sign up for coverage, keeping insurance premiums more affordable.
Conservatives took comfort from two parts of the decision: the new limits it placed on federal regulation of commerce and on the conditions the federal government may impose on money it gives the states. 

Five justices accepted the argument that had been at the heart of the challenges brought by 26 states and other plaintiffs: that the federal government is not permitted to force individuals not engaged in commercial activities to buy services they do not want. That was a stunning victory for a theory pressed by a small band of conservative and libertarian lawyers. Most members of the legal academy view the theory as misguided,if not frivolous.
“To an economist, perhaps, there is no difference between activity and inactivity; both have measurable economic effects on commerce,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “But the distinction between doing something and doing nothing would not have been lost on the framers, who were practical statesmen, not metaphysical philosophers.” 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an opinion joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, dissented on this point, calling the view “stunningly retrogressive.” She wondered why Chief Justice Roberts had seen fit to address it at all in light of his vote to uphold the mandate under the tax power. 

Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor and a champion of the health care law, said that it was “important to look at the dark cloud behind the silver lining.” 

“Federal power has more restrictions on it,” he said, referring to the new limits on regulating commerce. “Going forward, there may even be laws on the books that have to be re-examined.”
The restrictions placed on the Medicaid expansion may also have significant ripple effects. A splintered group of justices effectively revised the law to allow states to choose between participating in the expansion while receiving additional payments or forgoing the expansion and retaining the existing payments. The law had called for an all-or-nothing choice. 

The expansion had been designed to provide coverage to 17 million Americans. While some states have indicated that they will participate in the expansion, others may be resistant, leaving more people outside the safety net than the Obama administration had intended.
Although the decision did not turn on it, the back-and-forth between Justice Ginsburg’s opinion for the four liberals and the joint opinion by the four conservatives — Justice Kennedy and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — revisited the by-now-familiar arguments. Broccoli made a dozen appearances. 

“Although an individual might buy a car or a crown of broccoli one day, there is no certainty she will ever do so,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “And if she eventually wants a car or has a craving for broccoli, she will be obliged to pay at the counter before receiving the vehicle or nourishment. She will get no free ride or food, at the expense of another consumer forced to pay an inflated price.” 

The conservative dissenters responded that “one day the failure of some of the public to purchase American cars may endanger the existence of domestic automobile manufacturers; or the failure of some to eat broccoli may be found to deprive them of a newly discovered cancer-fighting chemical which only that food contains, producing health care costs that are a burden on the rest of us.” 

All of the justices agreed that their review of the health care law was not barred by the Anti-Injunction Act, which allows suits over some sorts of taxes only after they become due. That could have delayed the health care challenge to 2015. The conservative dissenters said that the majority could not have it both ways by calling the mandate a tax for some purposes but not others. 

“That carries verbal wizardry too far, deep into the forbidden land of sophists,” they said.
As a general matter, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the decision in the case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393, offered no endorsement of the law’s wisdom. 

Some decisions, the chief justice said, “are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them.”
Justice Ginsburg, speaking to a crowded courtroom that sat rapt for the better part of an hour, drew a different conclusion.

President Obama Campaigns in Virginia

In Tampa, Florida the GOP is holding its convention and all the seekers are pouncing on President Barak Obama and claim that he lacks leadership. Who is making peace with the countries who had turned away from the U.S.A during the Bush Presidency? Who cares about the people who are less fortunate? Who care about the minorities in the world not just in the U.S. Who wants a world in peace? Who has a positive vision of the future?
People should also listen to President Obama like here in Virginia.
President Obama is showing the audience how important it is to vote in November.


President Obama Speaks on Preparing for Tropical Storm Isaac (Video/Transcrip)

The Diplomatic Room
THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  This morning I want to say a few words about tropical storm Isaac and the steps that we’re taking to keep people safe and minimize the damage.
I just got an update from Secretary Napolitano, Administrator Fugate, the head of FEMA, and Dr. Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Center, on preparations that underway in the Gulf.  This storm isn’t scheduled to make landfall until later today, but at my direction FEMA has been on the ground for over a week working with state and local officials in areas that could be affected -- from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to Florida, and more recently, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Yesterday I approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place.  And right now, we already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm.  
As we prepare for Isaac to hit, I want to encourage all residents of the Gulf Coast to listen to your local officials and follow their directions, including if they tell you to evacuate.  We’re dealing with a big storm and there could be significant flooding and other damage across a large area.  Now is not the time to tempt fate.  Now is not the time to dismiss official warnings.  You need to take this seriously.
And finally, I want to thank everyone who has been working around the clock to get ready for Isaac.  The hardest work, of course, is still ahead.  And as President, I’ll continue to make sure that the federal government is doing everything possible to help the American people prepare for and recover from this dangerous storm.  And as we get additional updates from the Hurricane Center as well as from FEMA in terms of activities on the ground, we’ll be providing continuous updates both at the local and the national level.
Thank you.


The Harrowing Crash of Continental 3407

Here is an example why we need governmental over-side despite continuing calls for smaller government and deregulation. However, if the government does not regulate, companies, they will do whatever is most profitable. Human life is just a number in $$. 

So we have to be careful when some people call for less governmental regulations!

Watch Flying Cheap on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: The Do-Over

I usually don't like to post advertisement on my blog but this one seem to be so good that I think it's worthwhile watching.


The Violence We Don't See

I added this article to this blog because I thought it is of utmost importance that  people around the world think about their behavior towards people who think or believe differently than themselves. I think Mr. Beibart hits the nail on its head when he describes how Americans have become less tolerant towards other religions and how their fears have been heightened  since 9 11.

 Americans need to wake up attacks on U.S.Muslims
Published in Newsweek August 27,2012

When Muslim extremists attacked their third Ameri­can church in three days, the cable networks cut away from regular programming to cover the news. When militants vandalized a Christian school in Illinois two days later, both presidential candidates issued state­ments denouncing the wave of jihadist violence. When terrorists shot up another church the day after that, President Obama flew to comfort the parishioners. By the sixth attack, Rush Limbaugh was demanding that the Obama administration ditch its politically correct pussyfooting and acknowledge the Muslim fifth column in our midst. After the seventh attack, lawmakers intro­duced legislation giving the feds additional powers to detain American citizens suspected of extremist views. After the attack, a group of congressmen suggested that the U.S. halt immigration from Muslim countries.
None of this happened. But in recent weeks, here's what has. On Aug. 4, teenagers pelted a mosque in Hay-ward, Calif., with fruit. On Aug. 5, Wade Michael Page murdered six congregants and wounded a police of­ficer at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, quite possibly because he thought the Sikhs were Muslim. That same day, a man vandalized a mosque in North Smithfleld, R.I. On Aug. 6, a mosque in Joplin, Mo., was burned to the ground. On Aug. 7, two women threw pieces of pork at the site of a proposed Islamic center in Ontario, Calif. On Aug. 10, a man allegedly shot a pellet rifle at a mosque near Chicago while people prayed inside. On Aug. 12, attackers fired paintball guns at a mosque in Oklahoma City, and a homemade bomb filled with acid was thrown at an Islamic school in Lombard, 111. On Aug. IS, assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at the home of a Muslim family in Panama City, Fla.
Except for the Sikh temple attack, little of this has made the national press (other than, which has chronicled it well), in part because it doesn't fit the prevailing media narrative. At least since 9/11, "terror" and "homeland security" have been terms that connote the danger that Muslims pose to non-Muslims, not the other way around. But this very fear of Muslim violence may be sparking anti-Muslim violence, and hysteria-peddling politicians bear some of the blame.
During the Republican presidential primaries, Her­man Cain said he would not appoint a Muslim to his cabinet. Newt Gingrich warned incessantly about Sharia being imposed upon the United States. In July, Michele Bachmann and several other members of Congress insinu­ated that Huma Abedin, one of the few American Muslims in a high-level government job, was an agent of Egypt's Mus­lim Brotherhood. John McCain, Marco Rubio, and John Boehner criticized Bachmann's smear campaign, but Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Eric Cantor, and Romney adviser John Bolton defended it. Romney, predictably, tried to have it both ways, saying that Bachmann's at­tacks "are not things that are part of my campaign," but that "I'm not going to tell other people what things to talk about." In other words, I won't defame American Muslims myself, but if other prominent Republicans want to, go ahead. After receiving threats, Abedin now receives FBI security protection.
Obviously, jihadist terrorism still exists. (As does anti-Christian violence by the secular left, as evi­denced by last week's shooting at the offices of the Family Research Council.) But more than a decade after 9/11, the over­whelming evidence suggests that the jihadist threat has diminished dramatically. Yes, Islamists are gain­ing power in parts of the Middle East, but "Islamism" has become the same kind of catchall phrase that "communism" was in the 1950s, which means it ranges from people who want to kill Americans to people who just hold a different vision of society. The Muslim Brotherhood may be bad news for Egypt, and perhaps Israel, but it's hardly planning attacks on U.S. soil.
In the 1950s, Joseph McCarthy-believing that it was too difficult to fight communism abroad-declared that the real threat came from communists at home. In so doing, he fueled a hysteria that ruined the lives of countless Americans who had dabbled in leftist poli­tics but never remotely posed a threat to their fellow citizens. Today, with the Bush era's epic "war on ter­ror" ending with a whimper, a new generation of anti-Muslim McCarthyites is doing something similar. The more American politicians insist that Islam is inher­ently hateful and violent, the more hate and violence they foment against Muslims in the U.S. Maybe if the media covered the attacks American Muslims endure as vigorously as they cover the attacks American Muslims commit, more people would realize that. nw

President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 25, 2012 (Video/Transcript)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
August 25, 2012
Hi, everybody. Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about Medicare, with a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around. So today I want to step back for a minute and share with you some actual facts and news about the program.
This week, we found out that, thanks to the health care law we passed, nearly 5.4 million seniors with Medicare have saved over $4.1 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average of more than $700 per person. And this year alone, 18 million seniors with Medicare have taken advantage of preventive care benefits like mammograms or other cancer screenings that now come at no extra cost.
That’s progress. It means that seniors everywhere are getting the care they need for less. And if you have questions about what benefits you’re entitled to, you can go to to find out.
This news is also a reminder of what’s really at stake when we talk about the future of Medicare. It’s not about overheated rhetoric at election time. It’s about a promise this country made to our seniors that says if you put in a lifetime of hard work, you shouldn’t lose your home or your life savings just because you get sick.
Over the last 47 years, millions of Americans have worked for that promise. They’ve earned it. And for many seniors, the care they’ve gotten through Medicare has made all the difference in the world.
Growing up as the son of a single mother, I was raised with the help of my grandparents. I saw how important things like Medicare and Social Security were in their lives. And I saw the peace of mind it gave them.
That’s why, as President, my goal has been to strengthen these programs now, and preserve them for future generations. Because today’s seniors deserve that same peace of mind. And the millions of Americans who are working hard right now deserve to know that the care they need will be available when they need it.
That’s why, as part of the Affordable Care Act, we gave seniors deeper discounts on prescription drugs, and made sure preventive care like mammograms are free without a co-pay. We’ve extended the life of Medicare by almost a decade. And I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies – reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime.
Republicans in Congress have put forward a very different plan. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. That means that instead of being guaranteed Medicare, seniors would get a voucher to buy insurance, but it wouldn’t keep up with costs. As a result, one plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for the same benefits they get now. And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.
I think our seniors deserve better. I’m willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick.
Here in America, we believe in keeping our promises – especially to our seniors who have put in a lifetime of hard work and deserve to enjoy their golden years. That’s what Medicare is all about. That’s why we need to strengthen and preserve it for future generations. And as long as I have the honor of serving as your President, that’s exactly what I’ll do.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.


Niall Ferguson attacks President Obama

Niall Ferguson: "Obama’s Gotta Go”
 is what Ferguson wrote in the news issue of The Newsweek.
One must take into account that Niall Ferguson had been an adviser to John McCain which points out his own ideology which might have clouded his view when writing his article.

Furthermore Niall Ferguson wrote, “Why does Paul Ryan scare the president so much? Because Obama has broken his promises, and it’s clear that the GOP ticket’s path to prosperity is our only hope.”

In in article he uses detailed numbers to validate his argument but he does not consider the question why Obama could not keep his promises. 

President Obama took office during the worst financial crises since the Great Depression after the passage of the United States' Smoot-Hawley Tariff in the 1930s. 

President Obama took office during a time when the income tax for the wealthiest in the United States was and still is at a historical low.

President Obama took office during a time when bankers got reworded for causing this financial crisis.

Nonetheless President Obama took on the challenge to tackle Healthcare despite overwhelming opposition from the right (GOP) as well as interest groups who feared a loss in their revenue, like insurance companies who otherwise could charge whatever they want. Surely what President Obama got was not perfect but only a compromise.  It would have been better if  the U.S. would have gotten a single payer system like the Europeans or in Asians have. However, to call President Obama's compromise a failure shows where Niall Ferguson interests are situated.  

Moreover  Niall Ferguson complains about President Obama's diplomacy. He calls him weak because President Obama is not like J.W. Bush and probably also Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan a war president. Do we really want to go back to the time of J.W. Bush and start a war again just because we want to look tough? Being cautious is not a sign of weakness but wisdom. 

And now Niall Ferguson’s solution is, to elect a man to become president who is a millionaire but who is clearly  not interested in the struggling American middle-class but in the ones who supported him with billions during this election cycle. In addition Niall Ferguson argues for a vice-president who wants to make the American people suffer in the same way as those in Greece, Spain, Portugal etc.  So the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan pact can continue to give more money to the banks which have caused this misery in the first place.

Niall Ferguson suggest to have valued added tax like in Germany which would be even unfairer as the current tax giveaway to the super-wealthy. It would make life for the poor as well as the middle-class even more difficult.

Writers like Niall Ferguson are out to protect their wealth regardless of the suffering of the common man around the world. I often wonder about this kind of journalism. I wonder about the ones who have their own private agenda, the ones who protect their own interests as Niall Ferguson does and see in the GOP ticket as a path to more prosperity for themselves and the ones who have more than they ever need.

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at a Joining Forces Hiring Event

Mayport Naval Station
Mayport, Florida
1:35 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA:  Thank you all so much.  Please be seated.  Forgot you all take orders really well.  (Laughter.)  I am beyond thrilled to be here with all of you today at Naval Station Mayport.  And I want to start by thanking Paul for that very kind and, for me, moving introduction.  And I also want to thank Vice Admiral Van Buskirk for his remarks as well today and for his strong leadership in America’s Navy.
And I also want to recognize a couple of people who are here -- Representative Brown for her service.  I understand the Mayor is here as well.  But I also want to thank Rear Admiral Sinclair Harris and his wife, Cora; Captain Douglas Cochrane and his wife, Anne; as well as Command Master Chief Robert White and his wife, Lesley.  Thank you for hosting us here today.
But most of all, I want to thank all of you, our extraordinary men and women in uniform and veterans, and your extraordinary families. 
I know that we’re being broadcast live into every U.S. military base –- here in America and around the world –- and we’ve got folks tuning in from as close by as Tampa and Pensacola, and as far away as Kabul and Seoul.  And on behalf of myself and my husband, I want to start off by saying that we are so proud of your service and so grateful for your sacrifice. 
You all -- and I say this time and time again, and I mean it every time I say it -- you all are the very best of America.  You all have given so much to this country.  And I’m here today because I want to talk with you about what this country is doing to give back to all of you. 
As you all may know, last August -- I think you saw a video -- my husband issued a challenge to American businesses.  He challenged them to hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013.  And since Jill Biden and I launched Joining Forces, he asked the two of us to take the lead on working with companies to fulfill this challenge.  And I have to admit, when you get an order from the President, it’s a little daunting, even if he is your husband.  (Laughter.) 
So I was a little nervous, and I thought this challenge was pretty ambitious.  And when we first started out, we only had two companies as our partners, and I wondered to myself how we were going to get from there to 100,000 new jobs in two years.
But, fortunately, I didn’t have much time to sit around and worry, because before long, companies across this country started stepping up -- big companies like Siemens and Sears; small businesses like tech startups and restaurants and transportation providers.  And soon, those two companies became 20, and then 200, and then 2,000.
And by mid-March, these companies had already hired 50,000 veterans and military spouses.  By mid-April, it was 60,000.  By May, we had 80,000.  And today, I am so proud to announce that these 2,000 companies have not just met our challenge -- they’ve exceeded it. 
As of today, they have hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses –- 125,000.  (Applause.)  And they’ve done it more than a year ahead of schedule.  That’s pretty impressive. 
And it would be understandable if these companies just stopped now and patted themselves on the back for a job well done and called it a day.  But instead, these companies are doing just the opposite –- they’re doubling down on their commitment to all of you.  And today, they’re pledging to hire or train another quarter of a million of our nation’s heroes -- a quarter of a million -- 250,000 -– including at least 50,000 military spouses. (Applause.)
I want to send a very clear message to the men and women who are wearing or who have worn our country’s uniform, and to their spouses:  When you have finished your service to our nation, you have got 2,000 great American companies ready and waiting to bring you on board. 
Because the truth is, they know, they’ve learned what you all have to offer.  And I can’t say this enough.  These companies are not making these commitments just because it’s the right thing to do -- which it is -- they’re doing this because it’s the smart thing to do for their bottom lines.  I think the CEO of Sears put it best when he said at one of our events -- and this is a quote -- he said, "The men and women of our military, their spouses and their families are some of the most gifted, talented employees that we have in the company."   That's what he said based on his experience.
And that’s a story that we have heard thousands of times over, because these companies know that if you can repair a helicopter engine in Mayport, if you can coordinate thousands of pounds of supplies being delivered to villages across Afghanistan, then clearly, you have what it takes for a manufacturing or a logistics job right here in the U.S.  
If you can work with sophisticated radar that guide high-speed missiles into other places, outer space, if you can operate complex communications systems from a tent in a desert, then clearly, you’re ready to succeed in our high-tech industries here at home.
If you can work with people from all different cultures and backgrounds, if you can lead dozens, even hundreds of your peers in life-or-death missions, then clearly, you’ve got the management and interpersonal skills that we need in every sector of this economy.
So make no mistake about it, you all have the talent, you’ve got the training and the experience to lead America’s economic comeback, and America’s businesses understand that.  And that's why they’ve stepped up so readily to answer this call.  That’s why they’re hiring folks like all of you every day all across this country.
And that’s part of the reason why the unemployment rate for veterans has been dropping.  And so far this year, the number of unemployed veterans is nearly 20 percent lower than it was a year ago.  So we are moving in the right direction.  But let’s be very clear that we are nowhere near where we need to be -- nowhere near.  When it comes to employment for our veterans and military spouses, we have still got a long way to go. 
So while our businesses are doing their part, my husband is making sure that our government is doing its part, as well.  That’s why he’s proposed a Veterans Job Corps, investing $1 billion to help our veterans become police officers, EMTs and other jobs serving our communities here at home.  And last year, he signed two new tax credits to make it easier for businesses to create jobs for veterans, including wounded warriors -– and he’s fighting to extend those credits before they expire at the end of this year.
And to make sure that you all know about all the jobs being created, we’ve worked with companies like Google and Linkedin to create the Veterans Job Bank.  Now, this is a website where companies who want to hire veterans can post their jobs.  And you all can find it, anyone listening, you can right to
There are now more than 1 million jobs posted on that site  –- 1 million jobs today, right now, along with the skills translator, special software that takes your military specialty  -– your NEC -– and it shows you what jobs would be a good fit for you in the civilian world.  So that website is out there, and it’s available for everyone who is watching.
And finally, we’re making it easier for our military spouses to actually get these jobs by challenging all 50 states to help them transfer their professional licenses when they move from state to state.  Because if you’re a nurse or a teacher or a real estate agent or a dental hygienist, or have one of the many jobs that require a professional license, we know that you shouldn’t have to face a new licensing effort -- new fees, new paperwork and red tape every time your family moves to a new state.  That's ridiculous.  And so far, 26 states have adopted measures to help military spouses transfer their licenses or more easily obtain new ones. 
And today, again, I want to renew our challenge to those remaining 24 states to find their own solutions to ensure that our military spouses can continue to provide for their families and practice the professions they love, because more than anything else, truly, that is the story of Joining Forces.  That’s why we started this effort -- because it’s the story of folks across this country stepping up and doing everything they can to serve all of you as well as you have served this country.
Whether it’s doctors and nurses improving treatment for PTSD and TBI, whether it’s teachers reaching out to our military kids, whether it’s TV shows like Sesame Street and organizations like NASCAR sharing the stories of military families, or people spending millions of hours serving veterans and military families in their communities, since we launched Joining Forces, what I have to just let you know is that not a single person that we’ve approached or talked to has ever told us that they couldn’t help. Not one.  Instead, they ask us, what more can I do, and what else can I do? 
And every day, we’re seeing the impact of these efforts in communities across this country –- in the military kids whose teachers finally understand what they’re going through; in veterans who are finally getting the quality care they’ve earned.
And today, we’re seeing it in 125,000 men and women who have now -- have the jobs and training they deserve -- 125,000 people who are providing for their families and contributing to our economy and continuing every day to serve the country they love.
And this is just the beginning.  We are only scratching the surface.  We’re just getting started.  And we’re not going to stop until all of our veterans know that when they hit that job market, their skills will be rewarded.  We won’t stop until all of our military spouses know that the next time their family is transferred, they won’t have to leave behind their professional lives.  And I won’t be satisfied -- nor will my husband -– until every single veteran and military spouse who wants a job has one. All of you deserve nothing less.  Nothing less.
So today, I want to once again thank you all.  Thank you for your service to our country.  You all make us so incredibly proud.  So let the work continue. 
Thank you all.  God bless.


Obama’s (Perceived) Transformation

Originally Published: August 18, 2012

 EARLIER this month, Ann Coulter took to the airwaves of the Fox News network to denounce the dastardly machinations, large mendacity and mad villainy currently employed by the American president. Barack Obama was “a liar,” Coulter said, a “despicable campaigner” who once claimed the banner of “hope and change” but was now giving the American people “the ugliest campaign we’ve ever had.”

The wordsmith who gave us such nuanced disquisitions as “Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America” holding forth on civility must always be greeted with raucous laughter. But Coulter was actually variegating on a theme. On the same network, Senator John McCain accused the president of promising “hope and change” but actually running “the most negative, most unpleasant, most disgraceful campaign that I have ever observed.” 

Obama is “the most divisive, nasty, negative campaigner that this country’s ever seen,” the head of the Republican National Committee claimed, and the party’s presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, assured his followers that Obama was “going to do everything in his power to make this the lowest, meanest negative campaign in history.” 

For those of us who remember the attacks on Obama in 2008, this is a notable shift. Four years ago the book on Obama was not that he would fight dirty but that he would not fight at all. Before Obama became the Great Deceiver of Men, he was a pinot-noir-sipping weakling who was a horrible bowler, marveled at arugula and otherwise failed at manhood. The gospel among Republicans, and even many Democrats, held that Obama was yet another espouser of effete liberalism, a tradition allegedly pioneered by Adlai Stevenson, elevated by Jimmy Carter, apotheosized by Michael Dukakis, and admirably upheld by a windsurfing John Kerry. 

“There is in Obama something of the Democratic candidate for president in the 1950s, Adlai Stevenson,” wrote Dick Morris in 2008. Lest you miss what that “something” was, Morris’s column was titled “Obama’s Weakness Is Weakness.” National Review asserted that “Real Men Vote for McCain” and claimed that Obama “projects weakness” of the sort that was “an enticement to bad guys around the world.” In 2008 McCain asserted: “Senator Obama says that I’m running for Bush’s third term. It seems to me he’s running for Jimmy Carter’s second.” Early in Obama’s presidency, Coulter described Obama’s approach to Iran as “weak-kneed” and denounced him as a “scaredy-cat.” Surely such a man would see your all-American daughter sold to Ayman al-Zawahri and the Constitution replaced by Shariah law. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to 2012. As it turns out, the ingesting of arugula in no way interferes with one’s ability to have Osama bin Laden shot. Mitt Romney may attack Obama for “apologizing for America” overseas. But the audience for that charge is thin. In polls, Obama consistently beats Romney on national security. A recent Ipsos/Reuters poll found Obama leading Romney on the issue 47 to 38 percent and the campaign against terrorism 50 to 35 percent. 

Among the ranks of bullies, the only fair fight is the one that ends with them laughing and kicking sand. And so, no longer able to portray Obama as weak, the authors of Willie Horton, swift-boating and modern day poll-taxing have been reduced to other tactics — among them wildly yelping, “Please, Mr. President, nothing to the face.” 

Arugula partisan that I am, I must admit to some glee here. Watching Obama campaign is like watching an irradiated Peter Parker spar with Flash Thompson. It is deceptively easy, for instance, to see Harry Reid’s smearing of Romney not as the unsubstantiated, unevidenced ambush that it is, but as revenge. 

That way lies the abyss. I am not simply thinking of Senator Reid’s shadow war, but of the president’s. Obama’s tough guy bona fides were largely built on the expansive bombing campaign he launched against Al Qaeda, a campaign that regards due process and the avoidance of civilian casualties as indulgences. 

Let us grant that the execution of Anwar al-Awlaki, said to be the mastermind behind the foiled underwear bomb plot, should not much trouble us. But surely the killing of his 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and the secrecy around both acts, should. 

I like to think that the junior Awlaki’s (reportedly accidental) death weighs heavy on the president’s conscience. In fact that weight does nothing to change the net result — from this point forward the presidency means the right to unilaterally declare American citizens to be American enemies, and then kill them. 

During the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama earned the G.O.P.’s mockery. Now he has earned their fear. It is an ambiguous feat, accomplished by going to the dark side, by walking the G.O.P.’s talk, by becoming the man Dick Cheney fashioned himself to be.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address August 20, 2012 (Video/Transcript)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
The Weekly Address
The White House
August 18, 2012
Hi, everybody.  This week, I spent some time traveling across Iowa talking with folks about rebuilding an economy where if you work hard, you and your family can get ahead.
And along the way, I stopped in at Cascade High School to thank the teachers there for doing such a great job – and wish them luck as they head back to the classroom for this school year.
There’s nothing more important to our country’s future than the education we give our kids. And there’s no one more important to that education than the person at the front of the classroom.
Teachers matter.  Most work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies – just to make a difference.  They give everything for our kids – and in return, we should invest in them.
But here’s the thing: this year, several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school.  Since 2009, we’ve lost more than 300,000 education jobs, in part, because of budget cuts at the state and local level.
Think about what that means for our country.  At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America; these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year.
That’s the opposite of what we should be doing as a country.  States should be making education a priority in their budgets, even in tough fiscal times.  And Congress should be willing to help out – because this affects all of us.
That’s why part of the jobs bill that I sent to Congress last September included support for states to prevent further layoffs and to rehire teachers who’d lost their jobs.  But here we are – a year later with tens of thousands more educators laid off – and Congress still hasn’t done anything about it.
In fact, the economic plan that almost every Republican in Congress voted for would make the situation even worse.  It would actually cut funding for education – which means fewer kids in Head Start, fewer teachers in our classrooms, and fewer college students with access to financial aid – all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.
That’s backwards.  That’s wrong.  That plan doesn’t invest in our future; it undercuts our future.
If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible – from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.
That’s why we launched a national competition to improve our schools.  And for less than one percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we’ve encouraged almost every state to raise their standards – the first time that’s happened in a generation.
That’s why we’ve invested in math and science education, and given states more flexibility on No Child Left Behind.
And that’s why we’ve reformed the student loan program to put students before big banks, and increased financial aid for millions of young people – because in America, higher education cannot be a luxury; it’s an economic necessity every family should be able to afford.
This is a country where no matter what you look like or where you come from, if you’re willing to study and work hard, you can go as far as your talents will take you.  You can make it if you try.  I am only the President of the United States today because of the chance my education gave me.  I want every child in America to have that chance.  That’s what I’m fighting for.  And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, that’s what I’m going to keep fighting for.
Thanks, and have a great weekend