Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Meredith Warren talks presidential politics on NECN's Morning Show

Meredith Warren made a return visit to NECN's Morning Show this morning to talk presidential politics with anchor Steve Aveson.

Today's topics included Mitt Romney's scheduled announcement as an official presidential candidate this week, campaign stops by Michele Bachmann in the Granite State, and Sarah Palin's upcoming bus tour.

You can watch the full video by clicking on the image below (or use this direct link to NECN's Web site for video):

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meredith Warren talks presidential politics on NECN

Meredith Warren was interviewed by NECN reporter Alison King today regarding Newt Gingrich's candidacy for President.

Click here or on the image below for the full video (link to NECN's site).

Barack and Michelle's Excellent European Adventure Continues

Our recent posts on President Obama and his trip to Europe have generated lots of comments from some of our left-leaning friends.

One of the most frequent responses is the claim that President Obama is overseas to attend the G8 economic summit and to attend to other serious foreign policy business.

Well, here is how NBC's Today Show (not exactly known to be a bastion of conservative talk) has summarized the President's trip so far. You be the judge.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Benjamin Netanyahu is a class act

In recent days, some of our more liberal friends have said we whine about politics here on this blog. We'd prefer to call it being critical. You can read some of our other posts and judge for yourself.

But, whatever the case, we're happy to say that there is not one negative word in this post, which is about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint session of Congress earlier today.

We were deeply impressed and inspired by Netanyahu's historic remarks, where he talked openly about the close relationship between the United States and Israel, our common vision and values, and the hope for Middle East peace.

We saw a leader who is intensely proud of his heritage, proud of his country, proud of his people. He spoke candidly and directly, personally and emotionally. He was confident and comfortable with his message. He never apologized once for what he believes in. He never apologized for Israel's desire to defend its interests. (Nor should he.)

Netanyahu's speech was brilliant and visionary. It was also politically skillful. It was passionate political advocacy, not political theater. Netanyahu was able to deliver his message in a way that appealed to both sides of the American political aisle sitting in front of him. And, although he has publicly disagreed with President Obama's most recent remarks about Middle East peace, Netanyahu chose to make his speech not about anger or disappointment but about his commitment to a process that will make the world a more peaceful place.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a class act.

Beacon Hill snoozes along

Today is May 24.

It is the 139th day of the current legislative session on Beacon Hill.

One might expect there to have been a flurry of activity in this time, given all of the problems our Commonwealth faces - especially since almost two months have elapsed since a legislative retreat to game plan policy development and leadership for this session.

Alas, no such luck.

As of today, a check of the legislative Web site reveals that only 27 bills have been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Of those, most fall into the category of bills to approve sick leave banks for public employees or bills authorizing/validating local action.

By our count, there have been only seven bills enacted that have any effect on the broader population, and most of them are just spending money: two supplemental budgets, a $200 million road and bridge program, acts freezing unemployment insurance rates and extending unemployment benefits, a reorganization bill and a bill on fiscal literacy.

Beyond that, we're aware that the legislature is mid-way through its FY2012 budget deliberations, and that a bill reforming probation and parole is near completion.

Overall, this is a pretty shabby record of accomplishment which, combined with the ongoing trial of the former House Speaker, is quickly driving the Legislature into irrelevance.

Here's our analysis - it's all about incumbent protection. Usually, that's accomplished by spending money on pet projects and new programs that make for good press. But, there isn't a lot of money to go around on Beacon Hill these days and (thankfully) there is no appetite for new taxes, so it's difficult to spend money. This leads Democratic legislative leaders to avoid controversial issues and fly under the radar, hoping to seize on Massachusetts Democratic turnout to sweep them back into office in the 2012 presidential election. Meanwhile, Republicans have been curiously quiet lately, despite having doubled their ranks in the House this year, leading to an overall state of peaceful tranquility on Beacon Hill.

But, this isn't leadership. It doesn't solve problems that matter. And it isn't why people elected politicians to represent them. No, we're not suggesting that Beacon Hill go on a spending spree. But we have to hope that there are at least a few good ideas floating around the Statehouse that could be pressed into action to give Bay Staters a break.

Formal legislative sessions will end just over a year from now, in July 2012. Let's hope that gives enough time for some meaningful action.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Enough with the presidential pub crawl

If you ask us, the President's trip to Ireland today seems like a waste of time and it's a distraction from more pressing issues, not the least of which is the President's recent gaffe regarding US-Israeli foreign policy.

Quite frankly, it's "silly" campaign public relations by the White House meant, among other things, to reinforce the President's release of a long form birth certificate back in April.

But hey, when it comes to "silly," we didn't coin the phrase. Check out the juxtaposition of these quotes from the President:

"We do not have time for this kind of silliness... We've got better stuff to do. I've got better stuff to do."
President Barack Obama, April 27, 2011, commenting on the release of his long form birth certificate and the need to refocus on political issues such as the budget crisis, rising gas prices and the nation's debt ceiling.

"My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas. And I've come home to find the apostrophe that we lost somewhere along the way... 'Is feidir linn', Yes we can."
President Barack Obama, May 23, 2011, on the first leg of a European trip, celebrating his ancestral ties to Ireland.

Look, we have nothing against artfully-crafted campaign stops (in fact, we admire them), and we're honestly not trying to resurrect the so-called 'birther movement' (no takers for that argument here). Our point is that the White House is delivering a mixed public message to suit its own purposes, and the hypocrisy and lack of leadership are worth noting.

Either the President's ancestry is an issue worth our collective national attention or it's not. If it's not worth talking about - as the White House told us back in April, and as we're still willing to concede - then why are we being dragged through events orchestrated by the White House to reinforce the image of the President's Irish ancestry in an election cycle?

Enough with the presidential pub crawl. Enough silliness. Let's move on to talking about the issues the President himself has said need our attention, including: foreign policy; how to get people back to work; how to lower the cost of gasoline, houses and groceries; and, how to resolve a $14 trillion national debt.

Friday, May 20, 2011

President Obama shows himself to be a foreign policy failure

President Obama's remarks on Middle East peace yesterday are the latest in a series of foreign policy gaffes by the present administration which are severely undercutting American influence abroad and disadvantaging our country internationally.

Reminiscent of remarks the President delivered in Cairo early in his first term, President Obama yesterday spoke about the importance for people in the Middle East to rise up and call for democratic institutions, and he pledged the support of the United States for such efforts. He also renewed calls for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, calling for a non-militarized Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel, according to borders set forth in 1967 (with mutually-agreed swaps) and predicated on an Israeli military withdrawal.

Calling for peace and democracy is never wrong. But, the way you wish to bring about such conditions can be wrong. And we believe President Obama's policy is wrong on several levels.

Most of all, President Obama's new policy is damaging to American relations with Israel, our long-standing strategic ally and partner in the Middle East. To this day, Israel remains under near-constant attack from forces within the areas from which President Obama seeks military withdrawal. It is plainly unfair to demand that the Israeli government withdraw troops from these regions without guarantees for domestic safety, of which there are none. It is also unfair to ask Israel to retreat back to 1967 border lines after more generous commitments were made by our government back in 2004 - and since, by the President's own admission, it has been the Palestinian side that has failed to attend peace talks since then.

Immediately after President Obama's speech, social media and online outlets erupted with reports of Israeli discontent with the President's remarks. His supporters rushed to his defense, claiming it was just a speech and that it was simply stating what America has been saying all along. But, if that's true, why the big speech with all the buildup, and what was the benefit to giving a speech that only made people mad? It's obviously a shift in policy. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said President Obama "threw Israel under the bus" with his speech yesterday, and we couldn't agree more with that assessment. We give credit to Romney for being the first and most forceful to call out the President and for standing up for a more responsible American policy.

The President's call for populist uprising and democratization is also dangerous. We acknowledge a romantic side of this appeal, based deeply in American understandings of democracy dating back to our own revolution. But such is not the case in the Middle East today. There is no assurance that populist forces seeking to end totalitarian government wish to impose democracy, or that they will even be pro-Western in their views. And, calling for the people of the Middle East to solve leadership problems on their own is a passive-aggressive foreign policy that diminishes the leadership position of the United States in the region. It is also difficult to reconcile this position with other parts of American foreign policy, most notably our stance on human rights violations in China. (Although, that gets tougher to talk about when you have a choking $14 trillion national debt, a lot of which is held by China, doesn't it?)

Unfortunately, we can't say we are surprised. This is the latest in a pattern of missteps by the Obama Administration that have severely diminished American leadership in the foreign policy arena and undercut American influence on the international stage.

For example, President Obama has fundamentally misunderstood relationships the United States has cultivated with Europe for decades. He has diminished priceless ties with Great Britain, forsaking them instead for an enhanced relationship with France. This is a move which not only undercuts American strategic alliances, but also alters the balance of power in Europe in untested and undesirable ways. (It also appears to have gotten the president uninvited to the royal wedding.)

Then, take the case of Russia. Our relationship with the former Soviet Union has been largely ignored by the Obama administration, to the extent that Russian President Medvedev recently announced concern that a new Cold War climate is developing. We're not saying the United States should concede its position to Medvedev's tough talk, which came in the context of opposing a new missile defense shield for Europe. We're just saying that it is in America's best interests to have an active relationship with Russia, even if that relationship draws a hard line, than to ignore Russian influence - which persists in areas of concern in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

At present, the United States appears to have no policy on development in Central and South America. There appears to be no discussion of the future of Cuba, our communist neighbor to the South. North Korea and Iran, pronounced by the Bush Administration to be part of an "Axis of Evil," seem not to really be on this administration's radar screen anymore. The list goes on and on.

The bottom line is that we need an American president who is willing to stand up for American interests, to act as a domineering world leader, and to create a vision for foreign policy in an American image worldwide. President Obama is failing on all counts. And, in the process, American influence is eroding as other players move past it on the international stage. This would be a profoundly sad end to American hegemony if it is allowed to continue past the 2012 election.

America needs new leadership. Plain and simple.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Matthews resorts to sticks and stones

Political discourse took the form of a new low yesterday when talk show host Chris Matthews called former Alaska Governor and Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin "profoundly stupid" on-air.

Here's the clip (check out about 8:15 in for the main part we're talking about).

We think that calling someone "profoundly stupid" is not an appropriate choice of words by a journalist. It is "profoundly" unprofessional and disrespectful. It is an action that exposes personal beliefs and biases.

And, it's downright immature.

There's really no practical difference between calling someone "stupid" and calling them "ugly" or "fat" or "smelly" -- and hopefully we can all agree that calling anyone any of those names would be a serious no-no.

This sort of commentary by anyone, much less a member of the media, brings down the level of presidential political dialogue. Our country stands at a moment when we need political leaders to inspire us and to offer real solutions to problems. Political debate that is robust, substantive and principled is an important part of the process. Calling people "stupid" as a way to score points belittles things.

You don't have to be a Sarah Palin fan, or even a Republican, to cry foul about this. Today it's Sarah Palin. But, if they can do it to her, they can do it to anyone, right, left or center. Tomorrow it will be someone else. Pretty soon, it will be everyone - and isn't that the sort of political "silliness" that is so often bemoaned in the first place?

The best way to respond to these attacks is to not buy into them. Recently, Newt Gingrich found himself under attack from an activist who threw glitter at him and from an activist who criticized him for undercutting fellow Republican Paul Ryan. We're sure Gingrich probably had a few choice words in mind following the glitter attack. But instead, he exhibited extreme self-discipline by taking it all in stride and saying simply, "Nice to live in a free country."

Well said. Freedom is, after all, what makes our country great. The question is, are we capable of handling that kind of freedom? It doesn't seem so when you have people calling each other names like twelve-year-old boys in the school yard.

Grow up, people. Grow up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trump's game of political footsie comes to an end

Hello friends. After taking a few days off to work on some matters independent of the blogosphere, we're back. And, what better way to enter the blogosphere than with the departure of Donald Trump?

Let's face it, Donald Trump probably wasn't ever going to be president. Who knows if he even would have made it through a tough primary fight. But the guy made politics fun for awhile. And, as much as the press has derided him, it still gave them something to talk about.

Trump scored big interviews with some of the top journalists, including Meredith Vieira, Piers Morgan and George Stephanopoulos. And then, there were moments like this:

Presidential? Not really. But, new and different? You'd better f'n believe it.

As it turns out, this showmanship was apparently little more than self-promotion by a reality television star. But, it had an impact on presidential politics.

When Donald Trump started playing presidential footsie with the American voters, he was entering an arena where other candidates on the GOP side had yet to catch fire. And, as easy as it was to discount Donald Trump's candidacy as silly, there is no question he tapped into populist sentiment and forced the dialogue in a certain direction on issues like the President's birth certificate. (In fact, he most likely forced action on that issue.) For good or for ill, Trump made voters and the press pay attention to the presidential race, and that's never a bad thing.

With Trump out of the race, we still see a field of GOP candidates that hasn't really gelled yet, which makes it tough to have a coherent partisan message or a unified voice against the current administration. Who will take up that mantle -- not necessarily the mantle of Donald Trump, who never put it all together, but of the credible, personable candidate who asks tough questions of President Obama and proposes his/her own set of solutions?

The bottom line is that Trump filled a void by speaking the minds of disenchanted voters across America. It was a void that existed before Trump started talking politics, and it's still there now.

The GOP needs someone to fill that void. Until then, Obama appears to have the presidential field all to himself.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Van Magness quoted in Eagle-Tribune news story on presidential politics

Fred Van Magness is quoted in a story in Sunday's edition of the (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune newspaper.

Van Magness spoke about the importance of the health care issue in the 2012 presidential race, and discussed how he thinks Republican and Democratic candidates will deal with the issue.

You can read the full story by clicking on this link.