Oct 2 – DIRECT eZine for Democrats #856

ON THE RECORD ….

“He’s basically furniture in the Senate, and the people in Kansas know that. You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done in the Senate, and after 24 hours, even the crickets would be standing there befuddled.” — GOP strategist John Weaver. 9/24/14

“Holder’s real legacy lies in his refusal to be a coward on matters of race, and his courage in using the power and influence of his office to press the arc of our criminal law a little closer toward justice.” —David Cole in the New Yorker 9/25/14

“Holder is up there with the greats—including Bobby Kennedy. I don’t know anyone who has been more diligent and thoughtful on matters of civil rights.” — Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King Jr. 9.25.14

In the 1960s, the typical corporate chieftain in the U.S. earned 20 times as much as the average employee. Today, depending on whose estimate you choose, he makes anywhere from 272 to 354 times as much. According to the AFL-CIO, the average CEO takes home more than $12 million, while the average worker makes about $34,000.” — Jordan Weissmann in Slate 9/26/14

“A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’” — Rep. Doug Lamborn, who added that if generals resigned en masse in protest of President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy, they would “go out in a blaze of glory.” 9/26/2014

“You women don’t understand — guns are for men what jewelry is for women.” — Rep. Steve King (R-IA). 9/29/14

“So what have we learned? Fox News is a special, almost magical place. It’s a world where jokes about sexism are apologized for but ones about domestic violence are not. It’s a place where minorities are degraded and maligned for fun.  And it’s the highest-rated cable news channel in the nation.” — Dean Obeidallah on the four apologies in one week at Fox News. 10.01.14

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI 

1. The DAILY GRILL
2. The Borowitz Report: Cheney: “No Fair” That Obama Gets to Bomb Syria
3. Obamacare’s First Anniversary Report Card: The Facts
4. Daily Show: The Redskins Name – Catching Racism
5.The Colbert Report: Highlights of the Values Voter Summit
6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)
7. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Blah, Blah, Blah
8. Late Night Jokes for Dems
9. American boots on the ground!
10. John Cleese on (Fox News) stupidity
11. Climate change as urgent as ISIS, Ebola

OPINION

1. Washington Post Editorial: Eric Holder’s legacy: Protecting civil rights
2. Andrew Kohut: It’s Not the Year of the Elephant
3. John F. Kerry: Under US leadership, world will defeat ISIS
4. Eugene Robinson: Bookends of a Presidency
5. Ezra Klein: In conservative media, Obamacare is a disaster. In the real world, it’s working
6. John B. Judis: This Is What’s the Matter With Kansas
7. David Gergen: With ISIS fight, Obama regains confidence
8. Angela J. Davis: Eric Holder Transformed the Attorney General into an Advocate for the Poor
9. Michael Tomasky:: The Religious Right’s Slow-Motion Suicide
10. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: After Shutdown, A Year of GOP Obstruction

1. The DAILY GRILL

“The temperatures on earth before there were humans have both been much higher and much lower than they are now. So the main question is, is there human-caused climate change? That, I do not buy.” — Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA) 9/28/14

VERSUS

I work in neurosurgery, I’m a physician’s assistant, and I have to say if 98 doctors tell you you have a brain tumor and need surgery, you don’t want to listen to the two that say don’t.” — James Kimber, Hunter’s Democratic opponent. 9/28/14

The “modern Democratic Party is an extremist radical party:” — Senator Cruz at the Values Voters Summit. 9/26/14

VERSUS

“If Senator Cruz thinks that fighting for opportunity for all, like paying women as much as men, raising the minimum wage or fixing our broken immigration system is extreme and radical – that’s a debate we’re thrilled to have.” — DNC National Press Secretary Michael Czin. 9/26/14

“Truth which is an endangered species at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue.” —Sarah Palin (video) at the 2014 Values Voters Summit. 9/26/14

VERSUS

The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. — TPM 9/26/14

“Would that be considered ‘Boobs On The Ground?’” — Fox’s Bolling referring to a female UAE Pilot who led an airstrike over Syria. 9/24/14

VERSUS

“We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab Emirates Air Force Major Mariam Al Mansouri were unwarranted, offensive, and fundamentally opposed to what the military taught us to stand for.” — From an open letter to Fox News from the Truman Project. 9/27/14

2. The Borowitz Report): Cheney: “No Fair” That Obama Gets to Bomb Syria

ON THURSDAY: In an appearance on the Fox News Channel, former Vice-President Dick Cheney said that it was “no fair” that President Obama gets to bomb Syria.

“I’m envious as hell,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “That was on my bucket list.”

Asked if he had any advice for the President on bombing Syria, Cheney said, “Just enjoy it. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

ON SATURDAY: A Republican Super PAC defended the broadcast, on Saturday morning, of an attack ad highly critical of Hillary Clinton’s newborn granddaughter, Charlotte, who was born on Friday.

“Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky is fair game,” a spokesman for the Americans Concerned About Charlotte Super PAC said. “We have to assume that she is the presumptive Democratic nominee in 2052.”

IN WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama has decided to move his family into a full-service doorman building in Washington, D.C., saying that “it just makes more sense right now.”

“It really will work better for us,” Obama said in a press conference Tuesday morning. “In addition to the doorman, there’s a guy at the front desk, and, if anyone comes to see you, the desk guy will call up to your apartment first to make sure it’s O.K.”

Read more at http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

3. Obamacare’s First Anniversary Report Card: The Facts

Despite “real flaws and shortcomings the available evidence suggests that the Affordable Care Act is working pretty much as its designers envisioned it would with overall health care costs are rising at historically low rates.”

Other facts that point to Obamacare’s overall success include:

1. More people have health insurance.
2. People who are getting health insurance are almost certainly better off.
3. “Winners” probably outnumbered “losers” in the new marketplaces.
4. Premiums in the marketplaces aren’t rising quickly, and more insurers are jumping in to compete.
5. Employer premiums also aren’t rising quickly.

9/30/14 Read more at  http://wonkwire.rollcall.com/2014/09/30/obamacares-first-anniversary-report-card-facts/

4. Daily Show: The Redskins Name – Catching Racism

http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/189afv/the-redskins–name—catching-racism

5.The Colbert Report: Highlights of the Values Voter Summit

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/h1yge9/highlights-of-the-values-voter-summit

6. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don’t have to)

Stalin, The Nazis And A Serial Killer: The Villains Right-Wing Media Compared To Eric Holder http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/25/stalin-the-nazis-and-a-serial-killer-the-villai/200891

Fox Host Calls Eric Holder One Of The “Most Dangerous Men In America”http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/25/fox-host-calls-eric-holder-one-of-the-most-dang/200888

Victory Laps And Conspiracies: Conservative Media Respond To Eric Holder’s Resignation Announcement http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/09/25/victory-laps-and-conspiracies-conservative-medi/200887

NRA’s Ted Nugent: Obama Increased National Debt “Like A Crack Whore In An Opium Mall” http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/25/nras-ted-nugent-obama-increased-national-debt-l/200885

Fox’s Gallagher On Undocumented Immigrants In U.S. Military : “Let Them Go Serve In The Mexican Army”http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/26/foxs-gallagher-on-undocumented-immigrants-in-us/200917

Ingraham Suggests Obama Is Willing To Expose American Troops To Ebola To Atone For Colonialism http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/26/ingraham-suggests-obama-is-willing-to-expose-am/200913

Conservative Media Revive Death Panel Myth Amid Good Obamacare News http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/26/conservative-media-revive-death-panel-myth-amid/200915

O’Reilly Downplays The Gender Wage Gap: Statistics Don’t Include “The Emotional Difference Between Men And Women”  http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/26/oreilly-downplays-the-gender-wage-gap-statistic/200923

Fox’s Ben Carson: AP History Curriculum Would Make “Most People … Ready To Go Sign Up For ISIS”http://mediamatters.org/video/2014/09/29/foxs-ben-carson-ap-history-curriculum-would-mak/200933

Conservative Media Blames Rise of Islamic State On Long Debunked Claim That Obama “Missed” Intelligence Briefings  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/30/conservative-media-blames-rise-of-islamic-state/200949

Fox Uses Oklahoma Beheading To Tout Fake Obama “War On The Second Amendment”http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/30/fox-uses-oklahoma-beheading-to-tout-fake-obama/200948

Laura Ingraham Blames Gender Equality And “Political Correctness” For White House Security Breach http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/09/30/laura-ingraham-blames-gender-equality-and-polit/200944

7. Mark Fiore Cartoon: Blah, Blah, Blah

http://vimeo.com/107112714

8. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“President Obama is facing criticism over an incident yesterday where he was holding a cup of coffee in his hand, and then used that same hand to salute a Marine. Though with all that’s going on in the world, I’m surprised he didn’t salute with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a cigarette in the other.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The Secret Service is considering several new measures to keep people from trying to get into the White House. The first thing they’re going to do to keep people out is put up a sign that says ‘Blockbuster Video.'” –Conan O’Brien

“There’s a picture of President Obama getting off his helicopter and he’s got a cup of coffee in his hand, and he salutes the Marine guards with the cup of coffee. It’s all part of the new Jerry Seinfeld series, ‘Presidents in Helicopters Getting Coffee.'” –David Letterman

“President Obama addressed the U.N. today. Coincidentally, on the same day Chris Christie addressed the International House of Pancakes.” –David Letterman

“Today an Indian spacecraft reached the orbit of Mars. Not only did India succeed on their first attempt, they did it on a very modest budget — $74 million for the mission. Which happens to be, truly, $26 million less than it cost to make the movie ‘Gravity.'” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Congratulations to India. They were able to keep the mission’s costs down by outsourcing all of the work to themselves. And who knows, if it keeps going, in a few years, maybe we’ll have the first call center on Mars.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“House Speaker John Boehner is facing criticism over a recent speech where he suggested that unemployed people are lazy. Boehner would clarify his statements, but he was on his second two-week break of the month.” –Jimmy Fallon

“This guy gets all the way to the front porch of the White House. So they beefed it up. The security people added to the front door one of the sliding chain things.” –David Letterman

“This guy hopped the fence, ran across the White House lawn, and almost got inside the White House. And the Republicans said, ‘Well, let’s nominate this guy.'” –David Letterman

“According to a new report, Nigeria owes New York City over $500,000 in unpaid parking tickets for its foreign diplomats. Nigeria apologized and said they’ll pay the fines right away if they we send them our bank account number, our PIN, and our mother’s maiden name.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“There were some major security issues at the White House over the weekend. On Friday, a guy got to the front doors of the White House, and on Saturday another guy jumped over the White House fence. Officials are wondering why it’s so easy to get in, while Obama is wondering why it’s so hard to get out.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The White House has re-evaluated its security and today they announced they’ll start locking the front door. They’re also going to start asking who’s there when someone knocks.” –Conan O’Brien

“The Secret Service is under scrutiny after a man jumped a fence and entered the White House. In their defense, when they saw a crazed maniac running down the White House lawn, they assumed it was Biden.” –Craig Ferguson

“The Secret Service is under investigation after two different men made it onto the White House grounds this weekend after jumping the fence. Said President Obama, ‘Jumping the fence, huh? Why didn’t I think of that?'” –Seth Meyers

“A recent report says the majority of Americans cannot name the three branches of government — Judicial, Executive, and Legislative. To make it easier, the government is renaming those branches Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney.” –Conan O’Brien

“The Islamic State is releasing its own ‘Grand Theft Auto’ style of video game. In their version, the worse crime you can commit is letting a woman drive the car.” –Conan O’Brien

9. American boots on the ground!

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that he would call the House back into session if President Barack Obama asked for war authorization for the military campaign against the Islamic State, also called ISIS.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s going to take more than airstrikes to drive them out of there,” Boehner said Sunday. “At some point, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

Asked if those boots had to be American, Boehner said, “We have no choice.” 09/28/2014 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/28/boehner-obama-war_n_5895742.html

10. John Cleese on (Fox News) stupidity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvVPdyYeaQU

11. Climate change as urgent as ISIS, Ebola 

Secretary of State John Kerry said the threats posed by climate change should be addressed with as much “immediacy” as confronting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Ebola outbreak.

During a meeting with foreign ministers on Sunday, Kerry said global warming is creating “climate refugees.”

“We see people fighting over water in some places. There are huge challenges to food security and challenges to the ecosystem, our fisheries and … the acidification of the ocean is a challenge for all of us,” Kerry said.

“And when you accrue all of this, while we are confronting ISIL and we are confronting terrorism and we are confronting Ebola and other things, those are immediate,” he added, using an alternate acronym for the terrorist group.

“This also has an immediacy that people need to come to understand, but it has even greater longer-term consequences that can cost hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars, lives, and the security of the world,” Kerry continued. 09/22/14 Read more at http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/218480-kerry-climate-change-as-urgent-at-isil-ebola

1. Washington Post Editorial: Eric Holder’s legacy: Protecting civil rights

THE REACTION to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s decision to resign after six years in office gives a flavor of the challenges he has faced. Many on the right responded with denunciations centering on the usual litany of phony scandals. Some on the left offered grudging praise before turning to their own denunciations for Mr. Holder’s insufficient devotion to their various causes. Attention quickly wheeled to the next battle, over confirmation of Mr. Holder’s (still unnamed, but never mind that) replacement.

In an era when Republicans at the state level seem unembarrassed to try almost any strategem to deprive minorities and young people — read: Democrats — of the franchise, Mr. Holder has been a fierce champion of the opposite principle: Democracy depends on everyone having unencumbered access to the voting booth. After decades of rising incarceration rates and racial disparity in sentencing, Mr. Holder has been at the forefront of a movement to restore sanity and equity to punishment. He resisted state laws that targeted immigrants or people who police might think look like immigrants. And in refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and then, after the Supreme Court vindicated that call, in scouring and rewriting the federal rulebook to promote equal treatment of same-sex marriages, he played a key and honorable part in the unfolding movement toward recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans as full citizens. 9/26/14 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eric-holders-legacy-protecting-civil-rights/2014/09/26/a0d1cb36-45a6-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html

2. ANDREW KOHUT: It’s Not the Year of the Elephant

Sure, the GOP has the edge, but it isn’t as strong as everyone thinks.

By this point in the campaign season, the projected outcome of the midterm elections has been hashed and rehashed and even inspired some wonk-on-wonk fights along the way. The conventional wisdom is that 2014 is a Republican year—the GOP will keep the House and may well win the Senate. But surprisingly, as the elections approaches, the latest round of polling suggests that Republicans might not do as well in the popular vote for the House as expected. And that, in turn, means there might not be enough of a GOP tide to give Republicans an edge in the key Senate races they need to win a majority of seats in the upper chamber.

The question mark now, looking toward November, is turnout, not the relative popularity of the two parties. Ever since the debt-ceiling crisis in 2011, the GOP’s favorable ratings have trailed the Democratic Party’s—37 to 46 percent in Pew’s last comparison. It is unlikely that this will change materially in the next month and a half, given that the Pew survey found only a modest number of potential swing voters: Just 3 percent of Republican and 3 percent of Democratic supporters said they were only leaning to the party of their choice and still might change their minds on Election Day.

So can Democrats replicate a late surge in turnout, as they did in 2012, to make House races more competitive and pick up more seats? Pew results from the last two congressional elections suggest probably not. The turnout spreads between the parties changed hardly at all between early September and election time in recent Congressional elections.

Even so, the GOP’s relatively thin 47-44 lead in the current polls also strongly suggests that this is not a tide election—which could affect the heated battle for control of the Senate in a handful of key states. If the GOP is to regain control of the Senate, it will have to be on the strength of its Senate candidates, not on the coattails of a decidedly pro-Republican national mood. 9/26/14 Read more at  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/maybe-2014-wont-be-the-year-of-the-gop-after-all-111265.html

3. John F. Kerry: Under US leadership, world will defeat ISIS

THE UNITED STATES has long faced threats from a lethal brand of terrorism that perverts one of world’s great religions. We have been relentless in targeting Al Qaeda and its affiliates, but the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, now poses a profound and unique threat to the entire world.

What we are confronting is nothing less than a violent extremist enterprise. It has employed violence, intimidation, and genocidal brutality to impose its will across large swaths of Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State controls more territory than Al Qaeda ever has, which means it has access to money on an unprecedented scale to finance its mayhem.

So how do the United States and the more than 60 countries that have joined the effort so far succeed? Military action is a key component of the campaign. The Islamic State rules at the barrel of a gun and the blade of a knife, and that’s the only language its adherents seem to understand. But as the president said, America is not in this fight alone. Iraqi and Kurdish troops are fighting on the ground now, and over the months the moderates in Syria will become a more effective force as we provide training, equipment, and military advice.

The evil that the Islamic State represents is not something that Iraq or the region can take on alone. We face a common threat and it requires a common response. Acting together, with clear objectives and strong will, we can protect the innocent, contain the danger, and demonstrate that our ideals are more powerful than those who seek to impose their warped beliefs at the point of a gun. The Islamic State is odious, but it is far from omnipotent — it will be defeated. 9/26/14 Read more at http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2014/09/25/under-leadership/a2kyeND3mQrf5ct5oRj4dK/story.html

4. Eugene Robinson: Bookends of a Presidency

The speech Obama gave in Cairo in 2009 and the address he gave at the United Nations on Wednesday can be seen as bookends. In the heady months after his election, Obama hoped to be remembered as the president who forged a new peace between the Western and Islamic worlds. Now, while not completely abandoning that hope, Obama says there first must be war against jihadist “killers” who understand no language but “the language of force.”

The Cairo speech and this week’s address sounded many of the same themes, but there was a marked difference in tone. Five years ago, Obama invited Muslim political and religious leaders to join him in combating violent extremism. Now he is demanding they do so.

The president would have grounds to argue that if his approach has changed, it is because the world has changed. The Arab Spring revolutions unleashed powerful forces that had long been suppressed by authoritarian regimes. Among these were religious political movements, which rushed to fill the power vacuums that suddenly appeared, and long-buried passions stemming from the Sunni-Shiite sectarian divide.

But Obama has changed, too. In Cairo, he listed the sources of friction between the West and the Muslim world; ranked second, right after violent extremism, was the unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. On Wednesday, while making clear that the United States still supports a two-state solution, Obama said that “the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region.”

Start to finish, it was one of the most important speeches of the Obama presidency. So far, that is.  9/26/14 Read more at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/09/26/bookends_of_a_presidency___124106.html

5. Ezra Klein: In conservative media, Obamacare is a disaster. In the real world, it’s working

Obamacare’s competitive insurance marketplaces are actually doing what they promised to do: forcing insurers to compete for customers by cutting costs. The Congressional Budget Office explains that Obamacare’s premiums are cheaper-than-expected because its insurance features “lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than employment-based plans do.”

That is an extraordinary sentence: Obamacare is forcing insurers to run leaner than employers are. If Obamacare were Romneycare does anyone doubt Ryan — and Republicans more broadly — would be celebrating?

Obamacare isn’t by any means a perfect law and not everything in it is going right. The law powers a different insurance market in every state (plus the District of Columbia), so it is perfectly possible for Obamacare to be a success in California even as there are troubles in Minnesota. And there continue to be operational issues: there have been troubling revelations about web site security, and problems verifying the incomes of some enrollees.

On the whole, though, costs are lower than expected, enrollment is higher than expected, the number of insurers participating in the exchanges is increasing, and more states are joining the Medicaid expansion. Millions of people have insurance who didn’t have it before. The law is working. But a lot of the people who are convinced Obamacare is a disaster will never know that, because the voices they trust will never tell them. 9/24/14 Read more at  http://www.vox.com/2014/9/24/6836181/in-conservative-media-obamacare-is-a-disaster-in-the-real-world-it-s

6. John B. Judis: This Is What’s the Matter With Kansas

The midterm elections of 2010 were good for Republicans nearly everywhere, but amid the national Tea Party insurgency, it was easy to overlook the revolution that was brewing in Kansas. That year, the GOP won every federal and statewide office. Sam Brownback, a genial U.S. senator best known for his ardent social conservatism, captured the governor’s mansion with nearly double the votes of his Democratic opponent. And having conquered Kansas so convincingly, he was determined not to squander the opportunity. His administration, he declared, would be a “real live experiment” that would prove, once and for all, that the way to achieve prosperity was by eliminating government from economic life.

Brownback’s agenda bore the imprint of three decades of right-wing agitation, particularly that of the anti-government radicals Charles and David Koch and their Wichita-based Koch Industries, the single largest contributors to Brownback’s campaigns. Brownback appointed accountant Steve Anderson, who had developed a model budget for the Kochs’ advocacy arm, Americans for Prosperity, as his budget director. Another Koch-linked group, the Kansas Policy Institute, supported his controversial tax proposals. As Brownback later explained to The Wall Street Journal, “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’”

Brownback established an Office of the Repealer to take a scythe to regulations on business, he slashed spending on the poor by tightening welfare requirements, he rejected federal Medicaid subsidies and privatized the delivery of Medicaid, and he dissolved four state agencies and eliminated 2,000 state jobs. The heart of his program consisted of drastic tax cuts for the wealthy and eliminating taxes on income from profits for more than 100,000 Kansas businesses. No other state had gone this far. He was advised by the godfather of supply-side economics himself, the Reagan-era economist Arthur Laffer, who described the reforms as “a revolution in a cornfield.”

And Republicans cheered him on. “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Brownback. Influential conservatives in Washington even started talking about him as a promising presidential candidate for 2016. It did not occur to them that less than two years later, Brownback would be struggling even to win reelection in a reliably red state, his party in disarray and his conservative castle crumbling. 9/29/14 Read more at http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119574/sam-brownbacks-conservative-utopia-kansas-has-become-hell

7. David Gergen: With ISIS fight, Obama regains confidence

In a series of surprises, the president has risen to the challenges of leadership in ways that have transformed the early stages of this military campaign. The administration had hinted that air attacks against Islamic State, also known as ISIS, in Syria were still weeks — if not months — away. With a reluctant warrior in the White House, who could know for sure whether the attacks would be tough enough. Which allies would go with us?

And then, boom! The United States unleashed a withering barrage of missiles and bombs, apparently catching ISIS by surprise, and best of all, accompanied by forces from five different Sunni nations.

Coming on the eve of nations gathering at the United Nations General Assembly, the attacks suddenly gave muscularity and credibility to Obama. He quickly took advantage of the moment, delivering a speech at the General Assembly that was one of the most forceful of his presidency. Gone was the ambivalence of so many of his military actions — this time he was all in.

He even went where American presidents fear to tread: He called out friendly Arab nations that use oil profits from buyers abroad to secure peace at home. Those funds often go to the religious extremists who export more radical interpretations of the Muslim faith, spreading the seeds of Al Qaeda and ISIS. That was a gutsy move by Obama, and it had the virtue of being the right thing to do.

By the end of the General Assembly, walking amid the UN delegations, one had a distinct sense that Obama had emerged as the dominant figure there. More importantly, other nations seemed to welcome a reassertion of American leadership. (The leaders of China and Russia didn’t help themselves by skipping the meetings this year.)

Obama still has 28 months in his presidency. Like him or not, the United States needs a strong, effective leader who brings clarity and judgment to the tasks ahead. Spirits are stirring in that vasty deep once again. 9/25/14 Read more at http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/09/25/with-isis-fight-obama-regains-confidence/26tzfb3ejYJknU0nKVirdI/story.html

8. Angela J. Davis: Eric Holder Transformed the Attorney General into an Advocate for the Poor

On September 25, Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation. He made history as the nation’s first African American attorney general and will most likely be remembered for his vigorous enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws. He deserves equal accolades for his leadership in working to reform the nation’s broken criminal justice system. Since his appointment as attorney general, he has consistently criticized the draconian federal sentencing laws that require lengthy mandatory minimum sentences in nonviolent drug cases and has decried the unwarranted racial disparities in the criminal justice system, calling the phenomenon “a civil rights issue … that I’m determined to confront as long as I’m attorney general.” And he certainly kept that promise.

Holder’s most comprehensive criminal justice reform efforts were announced in a speech he gave at the American Bar Association’s Annual meeting in 2013. In these remarks, Holder said, “Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long and for no truly good law-enforcement reason.” He also decried the unwarranted racial disparities, stating that “people of color often face harsher punishments than their peers. … [b]lack male offenders have received sentences nearly 20 percent longer than those imposed on white males convicted of similar crimes. This isn’t just unacceptable—it is shameful.” Holder then went on to announce sweeping reforms, including ordering federal prosecutors to refrain from charging low level nonviolent drug offenders with offenses that impose harsh mandatory minimum sentences; a compassionate release program to consider the release of nonviolent, elderly, and/or ill prisoners; the increased use of alternatives to incarceration; and the review and reconsideration of statutes and regulations that impose harsh collateral consequences (such as loss of housing and employment) on people with criminal convictions.

We have yet to witness the positive effects of Holder’s criminal justice legacy, and some may suggest that he didn’t go far enough. But few will disagree that his efforts surpass those of any previous attorney general. Did Holder’s views on criminal justice evolve over time? Or did he always believe that the system was broken and in need of reform? Perhaps both statements are true. What matters is that at the end of the day, when he was in a position to effect meaningful change in our criminal justice system, this former prosecutor became a champion of liberty. And for that, this former public defender will forever be grateful. 0/26/14 Read more at  http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119616/eric-holders-criminial-justice-legacy

9. Michael Tomasky: The Religious Right’s Slow-Motion Suicide

The social conservatives is a group that is losing power, and I think the leaders and even the rank-and-filers know it. Their vehicle, the Republican Party, is going libertarian on them. Rand Paul, whether he wins the 2016 nomination or not, is clearly enough of a force within the party that he is pushing it away from the culture wars. He is joined in this pursuit by the conservative intellectual class, which knows the culture wars are a dead-bang loser for the GOP and which finds the culture warriors more than a little embarrassing, and by the establishment figures, the Karl Rove types, who stroked them back in 2004 but who now see them as a liability, at least at the presidential level. There are still, of course, many states where these voters come in quite handy in that they elect many Republican representatives and senators.

The money people own the party, and the neocons still dominate in Washington and—Rand Paul notwithstanding—will always have a considerable degree of influence in the party. The social conservatives are the only faction within the triad that hasn’t heaped wreckage upon the nation (not for lack of trying), and yet they have far less power in the upper echelons of party than the other two groups. And when they complain, as they occasionally do, that they’ve largely been paid back for all their work in the vineyards with lip service and symbolic little executive order-type things, they have a point. It’s a little like labor in the Democratic Party.

And now, 2016 is going to be a pivotal election for them. Many of them want Ted Cruz, who won the Values Voter straw poll. But of course this is ridiculous. Cruz isn’t going to be the nominee. In fact Cruz’s win, and the fact that Jeb Bush and Chris Christie weren’t even invited to the meeting, is a sign of their retreat from serious politics toward something entirely gestural. Bush, from these people’s perspective, is too squishy on immigration, and Christie last October decided to stop fighting the tide of history on same-sex marriage when a decision by the state’s Supreme Court led Christie to withdraw an appeal his administration had lodged against a pro-same-sex marriage lawsuit.

That’s a childish way to do politics. If somehow they were to get their way with Cruz, then Hillary Clinton will easily be elected president, and she’ll almost certainly have the time and opportunity to flip the Supreme Court back to a liberal majority, and they’ll be finished for the good, the cultural right, and they will have contributed mightily to their own well-deserved demise. 09’29/14 Read more at  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/09/29/social-conservatives-face-the-precipice.html

10. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: After Shutdown, A Year of GOP Obstruction

Rather than take action that will help middle-class families or expand opportunity for all Americans, many Republicans are more interested in scoring political points. They are following the lead of Ted Cruz, architect of the shutdown strategy, and Rand Paul, who viewed the closing of crucial government services as a public relations fight Republicans could win. What’s more is, Republican candidates for Senate like Bill Cassidy, Joni Ernst, David Perdue and Tom Cotton supported the shutdown and the last thing we need is more of that in Washington.

This is the choice that voters will face next month when they head to the polls — Republicans who are willing to jeopardize our economic well-being when they don’t get their way, or Democrats who will work to fix our nation’s problems.

Voters can see that the Democratic Party shares their priorities. We’re fighting to increase the minimum wage, because no one who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty. Democrats support paycheck fairness, because pay equity is not just a woman’s issue, but a family issue and an economic issue. These are actions that would immediately help families make ends meet, and a far more productive use of Congress’ time than another destructive government shutdown.

There are serious issues facing our nation that we will need to address in the years ahead. We understand that both parties have to work together. But that can’t happen if Republicans decide to take their ball and go home every time things don’t go the way they want.

You can disagree how we should address climate change, or immigration reform, or investing in our children’s’ future. But whether Congress fulfills its most basic functions, or whether our country meets our obligations, should never be up for debate.

Voters will head to the polls in less than five weeks. While Republicans threaten another shutdown, the best way to ensure a government that shares their priorities is to elect Democratic candidates who are willing to stick it out and fight on their behalf. 10/01/14 Read more at  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-debbie-wasserman-schultz/after-shutdown-a-year-of_b_5912540.html

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