Archive for the ‘campaign’ Category

What if Obama Had Been Honest During the Campaign?

March 15, 2009

Imagine that last fall before being elected, Barack Obama had outlined the positions he has embraced since being inaugurated as president. An honest campaign speech could have gone something like this —

”As we approach Election Day, the American people should not waste the crisis we find ourselves in.

The Washington Times
Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Consequently, if elected, I promise to get us over the Bush financial meltdown with a stimulus program that will borrow $787 billion – which, of course, will add to the already sizable budget deficit (nearly $500 billion) projected in the Bush administration’s last budget.

“By March of next year, my new $3.6 trillion budget will include a spending bill with more than 8,500 budget earmarks to target in-need constituents.

“In addition to the stimulus/borrowing plan, I intend to devote $634 billion to fund a new supplementary national health-care system. But that is not all. Unfortunately, the initial Bush bank bailout of some $700 billion also may well have to be augmented by an additional $750 billion.

“Although my new spending proposals may raise the federal deficit in my first year to $1.75 trillion, I promise the American people that by the end of my first term, I will halve the federal deficit – albeit adding another $3 trillion to $5 trillion to the national debt.

”Those savings can be accomplished by upping the federal income tax to about 40 percent on those rich 5 percent of Americans who currently pay only 60 percent of our aggregate income taxes – as well as lifting Social Security caps on their payroll taxes and cutting out many of their tax deductions.

”With state income taxes, federal income tax, Social Security and payroll taxes, along with new cutbacks in deductions, some of these rich will pay over 60 percent of their incomes in taxes. That is not an unreasonable rate in comparison with past levels – or the fact that well over 40 percent of Americans do not make enough to pay any federal income taxes.

“I expect that Wall Street may react negatively to these proposals. We may see the Dow fall an additional 2,000 to 3,000 points after I’m elected. It may descend to under 7,000 during my first weeks of office. And this may be the moment when the economy continues to cool and unemployment rises.

Obama musters campaign army for economic fight

March 10, 2009

Obama has called out the attack dogs that pilloried Rush Limbaugh to support his economic plan….


US President Barack Obama mustered his powerful campaign army on Monday, calling on his millions of supporters to lobby on behalf of his budget and economic plan.

The appeal to back the president was made in an email and video sent out by “Organizing for America,” the organization which morphed out of Obama’s campaign machinery to push his agenda when he entered the White House.

In the video, Mitch Stewart, the director of Organizing for America, urged the president’s supporters to take part in the “Organizing for America Pledge Project.”
“The pledge project is an ambitious effort to map out and identify support for President Obama’s economic blueprint across towns and communities in America,” Stewart said.

“We’re doing that by asking people to pledge your support for the broad initiatives outlined in President Obama’s economic plan.

“Once you do, we will ask you to build support in your own communities by forwarding this pledge by email, by knocking on doors and by making phone call,” he said.

“We will show in every state, in every congressional district the hunger, for leadership and long range thinking that’s in too short supply here in Washington.”

Stewart said Obama’s budget provides a “bold blueprint for our country’s future.

“It addresses three of the most pressing challenges facing our nation: health care, energy and education,” he said.

Read the rest:

Barack Obama warns economic recovery will take years

February 14, 2009

President Barack Obama on Friday warned that economic recovery in the United States “will be measured in years, not months” as he scored a major victory in his young presidency with the approval in Congress of a $787 billion (£542) bill to revive the economy.

economic stimulus bill will prevent American 'catastrophe'

Barack Obama has warned this is not a ‘run-of-the-mill recession’ Photo: AP

The House of Representatives approved a revised version but with no Republicans support. It was then expected to pass in the senate by 61-37 in a late evening vote, with only four moderate Republicans expected to give their assent.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the largest spending plan the US has ever seen. It combines tax cuts (38 per cent of the package), aid to struggling state governments (38 per cent) and central government spending (24 per cent) and aims to revive the world’s biggest economy that lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month.

The president has warned that without strong intervention, the US was heading for an irreversible downward spiral, but at the same time has seen the crisis as an opening.

“We have a once in a generation chance to act boldly, turn adversity into opportunity, and use this crisis as a chance to transform our economy for the 21st century,” he said, speaking to the Business Council a few hours before the vote.

He added that the bill was “only the beginning of what we must do to turn our economy around”, as advisers began sketching a bold legislative agenda for the next 12 months that will include a detailed plan for struggling home owners and an overhaul of regulatory regime of the financial market.

Mr Obama will also propose a budget to lay the groundwork for sweeping health care reform and present a major green energy bill.

In the meantime Timothy Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, will present a more detailed version of his banking bail-out plans, which were heavily criticised earlier in the week for lacking substance.

The weakness of Republican support for the stimulus package was a blow to the president, who lobbied his opponents hard to present a unified front on a measure he saw as critical to the national wellbeing.

Encouraging bipartisanship and “improving the tone” in Washington was central to his political philosophy, but aides now say the bruising experience of the past few weeks will make it much less of a priority.

Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff admitted to reporters that the administration had overdone its overtures to Republicans, which included two gatherings with alcohol at the White House.

“There’s an insatiable appetite for the notion of bipartisanship here and we allowed that to get ahead of ourselves,” he said.

From now on, the president would be civil to Republicans but has learnt there is little point expending energy on those with unwilling to compromise, either because of irreconcilable ideological differences or political calculations.

Mr Emanuel said of the president in the future: “He has an open hand, but he has a very firm handshake.”

Mr Obama will continue to travel the country selling the next phases in his plans to turn America around, after he stayed in Washington for the first two weeks and lost the war in the media, which concentrated on the failure of bipartisanship rather than the content of the bill.

This week he embarked on a campaign-style stops at various trouble-spots on the economic landscape, and was at ease taking questions from members of the public. Staffers has said that he will continue to escape Washington as often as possible to explain his mission on the ground.

Next week takes him to Colorado and Arizona.

Obama Stimulus: “Don’t They Make RVs in Elkhart?”

February 9, 2009

Here’s the photo op the White House wants: Barack Obama in a room full of angry voters in a town with 15% unemployment.

They’ll certainly applaud the president and the stimulus.

But the problem is: 50% or more of America has doubts about the stimulus.  Questions.  Reservations.  Fear.

So there are just a few problems with this picture some media folks at the White House want.  Nothing againt Elkhart or Indiana. But Elkhart is the Recreational Vehicle (RV) capital of America.  And we know how essential the RV truly is…

Try explaining even what an RV is to the hungry of Darfur or refugees in Thailand.  To John Madden an RV is essential.  Well, maybe no.  Even he has a converted bus.

Unemployment is unemployment so we do have a twinge of sadness at 15 % unemployment in the RV sector, but this is not a catastrophe.

And are we supposed to believe that the stimulus is about revitalizing the RV business?  Are these the jobs America needs?  The goods we are so proud of?

No. Barney Frank says we need to get stimulus money to states and cities so they can pay the police.  Well, like the rest of us, cities and towns have to make some decisions about where their money goes.

And so does the White House.  Barack Obama explaining the catastrophe in RV town doesn’t make me a believer.

And Barack Obama on the campaign trail won’t necessarily work.

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution pointed out this morning, the Obama campaign is over and the effectiveness of the campaign machine that got Obama elected won’t change a lot of minds about the stimulus.

As some opined on the show “Fox News Sunday,” “It’s a bad [stimulus] bill.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Stimulus: Obama house parties can’t stimulate needed support

He’s Now Clearly “Drama Obama”

Stimulus: Its All In His Hands; Spokesmen Fail To Explain

Stimulus: Obama house parties can’t stimulate needed support

February 9, 2009

More than 3,300 homes across the nation were supposed to host house meetings at President Obama’s behest this weekend to spread the word and drum up support for his economic recovery plan.

But as effective as it was getting out the vote in the presidential campaign, the network’s first big test at driving public policy was producing mixed results.

By Marcus Garner
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Some political watchers say the election enthusiasm — the fund-raising and the volunteerism — may be waning.

“I think people are kind of tapped out,” said Emory University political science Professor Alan Abramowitz.

More than 4,500 Obama house parties were planned in December, including more than 100 inside a 30-mile radius of Atlanta. This weekend, by way of comparison, only 38 get-togethers were planned in the metro area.

The president’s new grassroots political arm, Organizing for America — formerly the much-ballyhooed social network of election volunteers some 13 million e-mail addresses strong — hosted house parties to explain and build enthusiasm for Obama’s multibillion-dollar American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“I need your help to spread the word and build support,” Obama said in an e-mail message sent out Feb. 2.

But it was unclear exactly what people were supposed to do, other than watch a streaming video from Organizing for America, and then talk about it.

Most notably, no one — from Organizing for America’s Executive Director Mitch Stewart, to Obama’s political adviser David Plouffe — directed volunteers to reach out to their legislators.

“I’m really surprised that they haven’t used this tool,” said Georgia State University political science Associate Professor Bob Howard. “It’s sort of a sleeping giant.”

Phillip Garley of Lawrenceville, who hosted one of the house parties, said, “We’re not necessarily saying, you guys have to go call your congressmen.”

In any case, party attendee Margaret Johnson feared the action may have come too late to help. “We should’ve been doing these meetings a couple of weeks ago,” said the Brookhaven resident.

Six guests showed up for Garley’s party — half the turnout he expected. Another area event was cancelled abruptly when the host’s daughter came down with pneumonia.

But another host, Herschel Beazley, insisted that momentum grew over the weekend — possibly as Obama backers became alarmed at reports from around the country of less-than-spectacular turnouts. Beazley’s Sunday gathering in a Northlake hotel conference room drew 18 people.

“The cable chatter may have spurred more activity,” Beazley said. “My group RSVPs didn’t fill up until an hour before we met.”

At Beazley’s and other get-togethers, participants took it upon themselves to urge each other to contact Georgia’s top politicians.

“What we can do … No. 1, is hound [Sen. Saxby] Chambliss, [Sen. Johnny] Isakson and Gov. Sonny Perdue,” Victoria Deneroff said at her house meeting Saturday in Decatur.

One guest, Graham Green, told Deneroff’s gathering that the president can get a lot done if he “gets the 13 million people on his mailing list energized.”

That’s a big “if,” some political watchers say.

The strength of Obama’s massive e-mail network is limited by the Democrats’ slim lead in the Senate.

“I don’t think it will have much impact on the Republicans,” Abramowitz said, “because people who are doing this are going to be seen as the Democratic base.”

As for red states like Georgia, persuading the GOP majority won’t be easy.

“It’s hard to think that any Georgia Republican would be influenced by lobbying from any Obama supporter,” said Merle Black, another Emory professor and political watcher.

Republican congressmen summarily opposed the financial recovery bill that passed the House last week. Indeed, party leaders report hearing from another kind of groundswell — of people opposed to the bill.

Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart said the online buzz has been flying from her side without any formal organizing on her part. “I received e-mails from people saying they’re asking their congressmen and senators not to vote for these bills, and they’re asking me to do the same,” she said.

During the Reagan era, the GOP had the market cornered on grassroots organizing, Georgia State’s Howard said.

“In the same way that Obama sort of revolutionized campaigns to rally voters and collect campaign funds, the Republicans used mass mailings to outorganize the Democrats during the ’80s,” he said.

Obama’s campaign used technology to outfox the Republicans during the election, and it should be able to continue to do so, Howard said.

Obama enters decisive week on economy

February 9, 2009
Under pressure to win passage of a stimulus bill by week’s end, the president plans a mini-tour and prime-time news conference to build support, while a key speech by the Treasury chief is delayed.
By James Oliphant
The Los Angeles Times
February 9, 2009
Reporting from Washington — With the Obama administration facing a make-or-break week to enact a massive economic stimulus package, officials ramped up pressure on lawmakers Sunday to waste no time sending the bill to the president for his signature.

President Obama plans to hit the road to sell the package directly to the American public. He’ll spend today in Indiana and Tuesday in Florida, talking with communities that have been hard hit by the recession. And tonight, in Washington, he’ll hold his first prime-time news conference, with the economy likely to be Topic A.

Read the rest:

Obama Reelection Effort Begins

January 14, 2009
The vast network that helped elect Obama will be tapped to lobby lawmakers on behalf of the president, with an eye toward reelection. A service organization as a nonprofit arm is also considered.
By Peter Wallsten
The Los Angeles Times
January 14, 2009
Reporting from Washington — As Barack Obama builds his administration and prepares to take office next week, his political team is quietly planning for a nationwide hiring binge that would marshal an army of full-time organizers to press the new president’s agenda and lay the foundation for his reelection.

The organization, known internally as “Barack Obama 2.0,” is being designed to sustain a grass-roots network of millions that was mobilized last year to elect Obama and now is widely considered the country’s most potent political machine.

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Israel’s Purpose In Gaza: “Attackers be Afraid, We Mean Business”

December 29, 2008

Israel’s military operation in Gaza is aimed primarily at forcing Hamas to end its rocket barrages and military buildup. But it has another goal as well: to expunge the ghost of its flawed 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon and re-establish Israeli deterrence.

On the second day of the offensive, which has already killed hundreds and is devastating Hamas’s resources, Israeli commanders on Sunday were lining up tanks and troops at the border. But they were also insisting that they did not intend to reoccupy the coastal strip of 1.5 million Palestinians or to overthrow the Hamas government there.

This is because whatever might replace Hamas — anarchy, for example — could in fact be worse for Israel’s security. So the goal, as stated by a senior military official, is “to stop the firing against our civilians in the south and shape a different and new security situation there.”

By Ethan Bronner
The New York Times

An Israeli sniper checks his rifle on the Israeli-Gaza border. ... 
An Israeli sniper checks his rifle on the Israeli-Gaza border. Israeli jets bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for a third day on Monday, killing several children, amid growing international calls for halt to the violence that has left more than 300 dead.(AFP/Yoav Lemmer)

This means another peace treaty with Hamas, but one that has more specific terms than the one that ended 10 days ago. Such a concrete goal, however, should not obscure the fact that Israel has a larger concern — it worries that its enemies are less afraid of it than they once were, or should be. Israeli leaders are calculating that a display of power in Gaza could fix that.

 Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around

“In the cabinet room today there was an energy, a feeling that after so long of showing restraint we had finally acted,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking of the weekly government meeting that he attended.

Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.”

Numerous commentators on Sunday, both in Israel and in the Arab world, noted that the shadow of the 2006 Lebanon war was hanging over the attack on Gaza. Then, Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Islamist group, was lobbing deadly rockets into Israel with apparent impunity and had captured an Israeli soldier in a crossborder raid.

Israel invaded southern Lebanon and for 34 days carried out air, sea and land assaults before a truce was negotiated. But Hezbollah, by successfully shooting thousands of rockets into Israel while under attack and sounding defiant to the end, won a great deal of credit among Arabs across the region and used its prestige to grab a decisive role in the Lebanese government.

The risk to Israel in Gaza seems of a parallel nature — that if the operation fails or leaves Hamas in the position of scrappy survivor or even somehow perceived victor, it could then dominate Palestinian politics over the more conciliatory and pro-Western Fatah movement for years to come. Since Hamas, like Hezbollah, is committed to Israel’s destruction, that could pose a formidable strategic challenge.

And despite unwavering expressions of support for Israel from President-elect Barack Obama during his campaign, Israel is also gambling that its aggressive military posture will not alienate the new administration.

Read the rest:

Israel Poised for Long Campaign in Gaza; Learned From Failure in Lebanon

December 29, 2008
Before launching attacks on Hamas in Gaza, the Jewish state carefully prepared a list of targets, and it has kept its tone more modest than it did before attacking Hezbollah in 2006.
By Richard Boudreaux
The Los Angeles Times
December 29, 2008
Reporting from Jerusalem — As they prepared for lightning airstrikes on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Israel’s leaders drew sobering lessons from their stalemate against another Islamic paramilitary force, Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas.

In that setback in the summer of 2006, Israel rushed to battle without a detailed plan or realistic goals, and was handed its first failure to vanquish an Arab foe in war. Hezbollah not only withstood the 34-day offensive, but it also emerged stronger politically.
Faced with frequent Hamas rocket fire across its southern border, Israel planned its Gaza operation more meticulously, over nearly two years. As a result, Israeli officials said Sunday, their intelligence services developed a longer list of targets to bomb, enabling the air force to inflict more damage on the militant Palestinian group before Israel contemplates a risky ground assault.

And instead of boasting that they would “destroy” the enemy, as they did in the case of Lebanon, Israeli leaders set the more modest aim of “improving the security” of terrorized Israeli communities.

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Israeli special forces 
METICULOUS PLANNING: Israeli army special forces are deployed at the Gaza Strip border. Israel mapped out the operation for nearly two years.  Photo: Uriel Sinai / Getty Images


Israeli warplanes struck a broad array of targets in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Sunday, hitting a security compound, a mosque, the Islamic University, a television station and a network of smugglers’ tunnels along the border with Egypt as Hamas fired fresh volleys of rockets into Israel. The Palestinian death toll approached 300 after two days of violence, making this the deadliest operation in Gaza since Israel seized control of the coastal territory from Egypt in 1967.

Israeli officials said that they were prepared for an extended campaign in Gaza, possibly including ground forces, and that the goal is to break Hamas’s military capacity. “We will continue to attack as long as they fire,” said a senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Israel’s military, he said, intends to pressure Hamas to the point where the Islamist movement either “runs out of will or runs out of capability to launch more attacks.”

Read the rest from The Washington Post: