Friday, June 29, 2012

Health Care: The Debate Answer That WINS The Election

Another Gem from Ian Reifowitz over at Daily Kos

Official Transcript of Presidential Debate, October 2012

President Obama:

"How can it be, Governor Romney, that the health care plan you signed into law was good for Massachusetts but not good for the country? Do people in Massachusetts get a different kind of cancer? Do they get a different kind of heart attack? Diabetes? Do mothers need a different kind of pre-natal care? How about children's health? Come on, Governor Romney.

You signed that plan into law because you knew it was good for Massachusetts. You even had a copy of that law, and only that law, sitting on your desk painted into your official state portrait. That’s how good and important you thought that law was. Even as late as 2008 you praised the Massachusetts law, specifically praised the mandate, and then said you’d, “do it for America, just like we did it there.”

And in 2008 you were right. The Massachusetts plan was working, and four years later we have even more evidence that it’s working. Almost 100% of children are covered, and more than 98% of all the people in the state are covered. The quality of care has gone up, the law has increased overall spending on health care by only 1%, and the premiums people pay are growing much slower in Massachusetts than nation-wide.

But this time around you decided to sell your soul to get the Republican nomination. You decided to pretend that what you said in 2008, that Romneycare was good not only for Massachusetts but for America, was no longer true.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the fundamental difference between me and Governor Romney, on health care, and right on down the line. He doesn’t have the courage of his convictions. He’s willing to sacrifice his principles, and to ignore what he truly believes is best for the country, in order to get elected. He stands for nothing.

I know what I believe, and I know what I stand for. I fought to pass health care reform and didn’t care about whether it would help me get re-elected. I fought to pass health care reform because it is the right thing to do for our country. It makes us a stronger, healthier people. That’s what I care about. Governor Romney only cares about getting elected. That’s the difference between him and me."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

FOX News: Obama +5, Job Rating Obama +5

What in the world.....

I just saw this at Real Clear Politics (yes I know a Repub. site but they do put up a lot of poll info):
Fox News: (Latest 24-26 June 12) Approve: 48% Disapprove 43% Don't know 9%
But wait... there's more.
While their poll shows that only 43% of people think President Obama has a plan for fixing the economy, the survey shows that ONLY 27% of people think Mitt Romney has a plan to fix the economy....

FURTHER... President Obama leads Romney 47%-36% amongst people when asked:
Who do you think will do a better job looking out for you and your family during tough economic times?
In that same poll - Americans approve of President Obama's Immigration move by 54% - 36% and not only that but 54% felt that the President was completely within his rights to do it. Oh well, there goes another Republican meme down the toilet.
The best part of the poll:

Is this:

If the presidential election were held today, how would you vote if the candidates were:
Barak Obama 45%
Romney 40%
So far so good. and then the "Money" part. Among "Definite" voters: Obama 46%, Romney 43%.
For a total look at polls:
RCP Average 6/4 - 6/27 -- -- 47.3 43.7 Obama +3.6
FOX News 6/24 - 6/26 912 RV 3.0 45 40 Obama +5
Rasmussen Tracking 6/25 - 6/27 1500 LV 3.0 45 45 Tie
Gallup Tracking 6/21 - 6/27 3050 RV 2.0 47 44 Obama +3
NBC News/Wall St. Jrnl 6/20 - 6/24 819 RV 3.4 47 44 Obama +3
Bloomberg 6/15 - 6/18 734 LV 3.6 53 40 Obama +13
Associated Press/GfK 6/14 - 6/18 878 RV 4.2 47 44 Obama +3
Pew Research 6/7 - 6/17 1563 RV 2.9 50 46 Obama +4
Reuters/Ipsos 6/7 - 6/11 848 RV 3.4 45 44 Obama +1
Monmouth/SurveyUSA/Braun 6/4 - 6/6 1152 LV 2.9 47 46 Obama +1

What today means for me - an ACA story

Today, June 28, 2012 - what a wonderful day.

I woke up this morning with serious apprehensions. I was worried for my future. I mean really worried. See, I am a 49 year old man with high blood pressure, and dangerous hobbies which keep me healthy and feeling great BUT, have risks attached. I also have two little kids who I want to go to college someday, and I have a home to take care of, one that I and my wife have worked hard to get and maintain.

My current employer does not offer Healthcare - fortunately, I have a pretty good plan through my wifes employer.

So, with all this going why am I so happy about today's decision?

Well, I am happy on personal levels and I am happy on other macro levels. I am happy on a personal level because now I know that I can't be denied or dropped from any plan that I am in. If my wife lost her job, I know I can still get insurance. I know that they can't turn me down just because I am middle aged and have a pre-existing condition (high blood pressure). I know that if I G-d forbid I get ill or hurt my family will NOT go bankrupt and have their lives ruined because of my injury or illness.

I know that I can live my life with all of the blessings I have (and there are many) and not have it all come crashing down because of sickness or injury. This means everything to me. I am healthy now for the most part (thank G-d), I plan to work and NOT retire for long time. I don't mind working hard. I know that my children will NOT suffer for things that could happen to me. I know my wife that I love dearly will not have her life destroyed by all of this. In this one place - I have peace of mind.

I am also thankful that my sister who is a senior and has medical issues can be covered and not dropped by her insurance if things get bad. I am thankful that my brother and sister in-law who are retirees but still young enough to enjoy it, now have protection in their senior years.

But I am happy too for my country and the people in it. I am happy because poor and middle class people who are not as fortunate as I am will now NOT be destroyed financially if they happen to fall ill. I am happy that our society is showing compassion for those that are ill. Further, I am happy that people will have affordable healthcare so that those who can't afford it will be able to get it. AND, to be honest, I am happy that people who choose NOT to do (what I consider) the responsible thing will not be a burden on the rest of us because of their short sightedness and/or irresponsibility. Finally, it makes it so that we don't have people lying on the street dying because they are financially ruined and/or could not get healthcare. Thank G-d for that. Our country is a better place for it.

In the end... this decision improves the quality of my life on many, many different levels. It improves the quality of everyone's life and as a part of American society that is what is important to me.

I am one of the lucky ones. I didn't need it for my health right now. But, so what. I needed it for peace of mind. MORE IMPORTANT, I needed it because as a part of American society, I needed it for my country. I needed it for all the good things it will mean. Is it perfect? No. I wanted a public option. But I supported this when I saw there was not going to be a public option and I still support it now. I needed this like we all needed it.

Thank goodness we have a man like President Obama in the White House.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Charles Barron Loses By Enormous Margin; Demands Recount

In a bit of great news from the great city of Brooklyn, notorious Israel deranger Charles Barron was utterly demolished yesterday in his bid for Congress.

 In the Democratic Primary to fill the House seat in NY-08 being vacated by the retiring Edolphus Towns, Barron was beaten by opponent Hakeem Jeffries by an enormous margin of 72-28.

 Charles Barron made a name for himself with extremist positions, including extreme Israel derangement and antisemitism. He has called Israel "the biggest terrorist in the world" and evidently opposes the very existence of the Jewish state within any borders:
"Should we start with the 1906 Zionist Convention, or in 1914, with the Balfour Declaration? With Menachem Begin, the terrorists, all the wars, you want to discuss Israel becoming a state in 1948 when it should not have?"
Beyond that there has been from Barron the usual tired deranger claptrap about 'genocide' in the Territories, Jews not being real Semites, Mummar Gadhaffi being an "African freedom fighter" and more of that kind of brain dead extremist rhetoric that is splashed across forums for the ignorant from Daily Kos I-P to Mondoweiss.

Almost the entire Democratic establishment weighed in on behalf of Jeffries, but interestingly, Barron was endorsed by the outgoing Representative Towns. He was also endorsed by fellow Israel deranger David Duke.

So, it is with great satisfaction that we read that Barron was so convincingly defeated in this election, in a district which includes much of traditionally Black Brooklyn, a swath from Bedford-Stuyvessant through Ocean Hill and Brownsville. According to this analysis, not only was the total vote a blow-out, but Jeffries won almost every block in the district, including the one where Barron lives.

 In spite of this thorough electoral trouncing, Barron is apparently demanding a recount. And, as can be seen in the picture, wearing his characteristic and disturbing Mao outfit while doing so. Let's hope this closes the book on the political career of this antisemite, a career that has gone on too long already.

Obama's America: Arizona, the Court, Immigration and Who's an American

Written By Ian Reifowitz and Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Everybody here knows about the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Arizona's immigration law.

I want to focus here on President Obama's statement reacting to the ruling. This statement shows Obama doing something he does constantly, at every opportunity where it is remotely relevant. What he did was to define America and our national identity in an ethnically inclusive way. After reacting to the specifics of the Court's ruling, Obama stepped back and discussed immigration more broadly. The language where Obama defines our national identity by talking about "what makes us American" is in bold:
I will work with anyone in Congress who’s willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs, and upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. And in the meantime, we will continue to use every federal resource to protect the safety and civil rights of all Americans, and treat all our people with dignity and respect. We can solve these challenges not in spite of our most cherished values – but because of them. What makes us American is not a question of what we look like or what our names are. What makes us American is our shared belief in the enduring promise of this country – and our shared responsibility to leave it more generous and more hopeful than we found it.
On the one hand, it's easy to gloss right over this language as standard fare. This, I believe, is a mistake. First of all, one reason it seems so familiar is that Obama, by repeating it over and over again, has helped make it so. This language, this definition of our national identity as explicitly inclusive of all heritages, is crucial to Obama's political worldview, his belief in the importance of empathy, and even to his conception of his own identity, at least as described in his public writings and remarks.

Here (and in more extensive remarks made on countless occasions) Obama has stated that it doesn't matter "what we look like" (skin color) or "what our names are" (country of origin), when it comes to our Americanness. We choose to be Americans together by believing we are part of a community that shares democratic values.

This language of inclusion and unity, coming from a sitting President and, yes, a President who is himself a visible minority, speaks to people who have felt excluded because of their ethnicity or another aspect of their identity, and helps them to feel included when they think of "the American people." Feeling more included can lead such people to identify more strongly and more publicly as Americans and as part of our national community. That, in turn, can lead people who have, at times, doubted whether certain people in this country really "wanted" to be Americans to change their minds and do more to embrace folks different from themselves as Americans. These changes build on one another in a virtuous cycle.

All this from one statement? Of course not. No one would be naive enough to suggest that. However, words, especially when combined with policies that promote inclusion, do matter. These words heard over and over again from President Obama, and spoken by the rest of us to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and children have a powerful, cumulative effect.

I've spent the last few years working on a book called Obama's America that analyzes Barack Obama's push to transform our national identity, to make it fully inclusive while simultaneously strengthening our sense of unity across ethnic lines. The closing sentences of the above statement show Obama doing exactly that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NBC: Obama Up 8 Points in Swing States; 3 Points Nationally

The latest NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll shows a relatively unchanged race from where it stood last month. It has the national numbers at Obama 47 - Romney 44 among registered voters (fuller results here — PDF). Last month it stood at 47-43. The most interesting aspect of this poll, as with many others throughout this election season, is the wide gap between the national horse race and the state of the race at the state level. While the national numbers suggest a close race, the swing state numbers indicate a decisive, albeit non-landslide, victory for President Obama.
Among swing-state respondents in the poll – those living in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin – Obama leads Romney, 50 to 42 percent.
According to the pollsters this suggests that President Obama's withering attacks on Mitt Romney's record in the private sector is having an effect in those states that will help decide the election. Last month, Romney's favorability ratings were -4 nationally and break even in the swing states. This month, he's dropped to -6 nationally and -11 in the swing states. While the numbers are great on the President's handling of the economy, 60 percent now believe that he inherited the economic problems and 51 percent believe that our economy is now in recovery. Perhaps most fascinating is the near-even divide between those that believe President Obama's policies have helped the economy, those that believe that they have harmed the economy and those that believe they have had no effect:
Yet, asked whether the president’s policies have helped or hurt the economy, 33 percent say they’ve hurt; 32 percent say they’ve helped; and another 32 percent answer that they haven’t made much of a difference.
As for key demographics, President Obama and Governor Romney each lead where they are expected to. The President leads among African Americans, Latinos, young voters and women. He also has a slight lead among independents. Romney, on the other hand leads among whites, men and tea partiers. While I know it is imperative to act as though this race is close (as the national polling suggests), something just doesn't feel right about the polling this year. With such a lead in the swing states, President Obama should be up somewhat more than 3 points nationally. At the same time, if the national polls are correct, then something is off having him up by 8 in the swing states. As for me, I maintain my cautious optimism and look forward to the night of November 6 when the various anchors have to get on television and announce:
Barack Obama has been re-elected as President of the United States
I'm all in. How about you?

Finally!

After months of waiting (with not-so-bated breath, though) I discovered this afternoon that the Obama campaign has released t-shirts, bumpers and stickers for Jewish-American supporters. Four years ago, I proudly wore my Hebrew button to show my support for then-Senator Obama and to help refute claims that Barack Obama struggled for support within the Jewish community. While those claims persisted until the election, come election night Jewish-Americans proved that meme wrong as we voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This year, that same meme is back despite polls indicating strong support for President Obama within the Jewish-American community and it will once again be destroyed come election night.

So, follow me below for some pics of what I should hopefully be getting in two or three weeks...

I got the "Jewish Americans for Obama Supporter Pack," which includes a t-shirt, bumper stickers and buttons. Since I was going to get the t-shirt and the buttons anyway, the bumper stickers are essentially included for free. Supporter Pack I wrote back in January that I really want an updated Hebrew Obama button to show my support for the President and do my little part in refuting the meme that the Jewish-American vote is up for grabs. Now, finally, I'll be able to do that. 2012 Hebrew Button And, for those wondering, the Hebrew on the t-shirt and the buttons simply says, "Barack Obama" in transliterated Hebrew. I'm doing my little part to help destroy that meme of a group that has voted for every Democratic presidential candidate since before Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Republicans, and their allies in the media, might try and claim that is changing and that the Jewish-American vote is up for grabs. Well, I'm going to do my best to let people know that meme is nothing more than a like. I'm a Jewish-American for Obama. I've stood up. Let me be counted.

So You Think The Poor Deserve Their Poverty

Written By Ian Reifowitz and Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Many of those on the right think that, as a rule, people are poor because they deserve to be, because they haven't "worked hard" or some other such reason. These Social Darwinist, Ayn Rand worshippers believe that the economic rewards of our society are distributed based solely on merit, that we each get exactly what we deserve. That's why they believe the rich are the best people in our country and the poor are the worst. This is the moral (cough) justification for conservative economic policies.

You know these people, the ones who talk about being a "maker not a taker," who bow down at the feet of corporations (they are people, so they must have feet) and ignore the fact that without consumers no one can create jobs.

Well, here's a fact and then a question for the aforementioned folks on the right. Ezekiel Emanuel recently noted in the NYT that:
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of children living in poverty in America increased by 41 percent, and now includes nearly one-quarter of our kids.
Are our children 41% lazier than they were 10 years ago?
Let me ask that again:
Are our children 41% lazier than they were 10 years ago?
Do you Social Darwinist/Randians really believe that's the case? Do you have any evidence to back it up?

Even if you want to make the absurd, ridiculous, amoral argument that all or even most children living in poverty really do deserve to live in poverty (I know, I know, just hold that thought), then that must mean that 41% more children deserved to live in poverty in 2010 than did in 2000.
'Cause if not, then maybe you'd have to entertain the notion that maybe children and, by extension, people who live in poverty don't actually "deserve" to be poor. And maybe you'd have to consider the idea that programs like, say food stamps or Medicaid or free meals at public schools so that low-income kids can learn rather than focus on being hungry (one of Limbaugh's favorites, just click on the link above), aren't simply "rewarding bad behavior" or some other such right-wing nonsense. And maybe then you'd have to entertain the notion that goodness and wealth do not actually go hand in hand in the real world, and that poverty does not, by definition, signal the immorality of a person.
In other words, maybe you'd have to open your eyes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why I’m back on the Obama bandwagon

The following is an excellent article from DrMike. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot of him.

Courtesy of DrMike

Last fall, I was part of a panel discussion entitled “Has the Obama Administration been good for Israel?”.  My position at that time was “regretfully, no.”  Regretfully because I had voted for Obama, I am a lifelong Democrat who has voted for every Democratic Presidential candidate since 1976 except for Carter in 1980 (I voted for John Anderson—remember him?), and I support the creation of a state of Palestine on the condition that it commits to living in peace and mutual recognition with a Jewish state of Israel.   Were this discussion to be held today, my answer would be quite different. 

My concerns last fall were that Obama had blundered badly in his demand that Israel institute a settlement freeze, that he continued to blunder in his May 2011 statement that the 1949 armistice lines were to be the starting point for negotiations, that he never really understood the fact that Jewish statehood was an inherent right of the Jewish people rather than a compensation for the Holocaust, and most worrisome, that he had not taken effective steps to stop the Iranian drive for nuclear weapons.  Yet in the past 6 months, he has made substantial amends for all of these points and, most importantly, showed the necessary leadership in instituting crippling sanctions against the mullahs in Tehran.

Let’s examine where the Administration has been on the Palestinian issue. We really haven’t heard much from them about this since last fall except for the American diplomatic leadership in denying the ill-advised Palestinian attempt to bypass negotiations and seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state.  His speech at the UN in September set the tone: “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN – if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is the Israelis and the Palestinians – not us – who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and on security; on refugees and on Jerusalem.” He went on to show a much better understanding of Israel’s position in the region: “But understand this is well America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable, and our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. S we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day. Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, and persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are.” Yes, he invoked the Holocaust but in the context of the real issue—centuries of exile from our homeland. But more importantly, he followed up on his statements with concerted diplomacy. American leadership was so successful that the Palestinians couldn’t even muster the 9 votes in the Security Council that would have forced the US to cast a veto. 

Obama has also been very generous in funding Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.  Although anti-Israel extremists are loathe to recognize this, Iron Dome saves Palestinian civilian lives as well as Israelis.  After all, if Islamic Jihad launches a rocket that hits a school and kills scores of children, Israel will be forced to respond—not to wantonly slaughter Palestinian children, but to use whatever force is necessary to eradicate the groups responsible for the rockets.  And while the Israel Derangement Syndrome crowd wouldn’t protest a deliberate attack on an Israeli school, they would readily claim that the Palestinian civilians used as human shields by the terrorists were the victims of “war crimes”. 



Obama’s  speech to AIPAC in March of this year mentioned the Palestinians almost in passing, recognizing implicitly that the Palestinians have not met their commitments, and he did not issue demands of any kind upon Israel.  The words “settlements” and “borders” were completely absent.   What was not absent, and what drew the most attention, was his laying down the red lines to the Iranians:  “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  And as I have made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

Most importantly, real sanctions now are having their effect upon the Iranian regime.  The US has convinced its European allies to stop importing Iranian oil and it has taken steps to ensure that Iran is cut off from the international financial system. The Administration had wasted precious time in 2009 and 2010 in an effort to engage the Iranians—an effort that was doomed from the start.  It’s possible that this delay will ultimately make it necessary for the US to deploy force to prevent Iran from making a nuclear weapon.  But when the US Ambassador to Israel states that the US military option “is not just available, it’s ready”, a clear signal has been sent to the Iranians—we have pushed a substantial number of chips to the center of the table in this poker game. 

Skeptics can also point out that Obama has likely recognized that the support of the American Jewish community is essential to his re-election.  It was pointed out at a pundit’s panel at the 2011 AIPAC Policy Conference that when the Democratic candidate carries 70% of the Jewish vote he wins; and if he carries 60% or less he loses.  So is this change of at least tone, if not course, simply a bid to secure his re-election, and would a second-term Obama revert back to the policies that raised legitimate concerns a few years ago?  I don’t claim to know what’s in his heart.   But he now doing what I said I needed him to do before I could support him: prevent the Palestinians from bypassing negotiations, recognizing that Israel does not at the moment have a legitimate partner for peace and therefore stop laying unrealistic demands upon Israel, and take forceful action against Iran.  Even Bill Kristol now recognizes that Obama has moved to the mainstream occupied by previous presidents:  “I am happy to agree with Obama to a considerable degree.” Of course, Kristol has tried to walk back some of this by expressing strong concerns about what a second Obama term would bring. 

Has Obama learned from the mistakes and inexperience of his first two years in office?  Or is this a political con job that would be abandoned on November 7?  I don’t think that a president lays down a marker on US military force-- against a regime known for sponsorship of international terrorism that could attempt such acts against US interests abroad as well as here at home—as a bluff.  I’m going with the guy who got bin Laden.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Progressive Zionist RELAUNCH

Welcome back to the Progressive Zionist (PZ) .... I have decided to relaunch the blog and turn it in a different direction. So with that said:

What is PZ - PZ is a blog about American and Israeli Politics from a Progressive, and Liberal viewpoint.

What are our Politics - Our politics are geared to the Center / Center Left. In the U.S. that means that we are firmly a Democratic (as in the Democratic Party) blog. We generally support Democratic candidates with some exceptions. We are firmly pro-President Obama.

In Israel our support leans towards Avodah (Labor) and Yesh Atid (Lapid). This blog is extremely pro Two State Solution to the Israel/Palestine (I/P) conflict. Our philosophy stems from this:

"The Progressive Zionist supports a fair, pragmatic, and realistic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the two-state solution. We support Israel's continued existence as a Jewish and democratic state, with it existing alongside Palestine, a Palestinian and democratic state, as friends and neighbors. We believe this is the only way forward and the only way to achieve an enduring peace."

What we are NOT- We are NOT a blog that supports Right Wing memes and solutions to issues both in the U.S. and in Israel. We are also NOT a far left blog. We do not support a One State Solution to the I/P conflict from either side (Israeli Right or Palestinian/Internationalist Left and Right). We do not support the demonization of Zionism nor do we support the infallability of Zionism. Further we do not support the delegitimization of the Jewish Peoples right to a homeland in their historic lands, and as such stand firmly against the concept of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions against the Jewish and Israeli people. Similarly we do not support the continued Israeli settlement of land in the Occupied Territories.

SO... What do we want? We ask that you please keep all of this in mind when you decide to post here. If none of that fits what you are looking for, you are welcome to post in other places. We do respect sincere and honest debate, but, if one does so, we ask that it be polite as well as consistent.

What we want is for people who participate here to have an honest and spirited discussion based on the News of the day. We want realistic discussion with honestly proposed solutions.

Most of all, we want you to learn something from your discussions here.

Thanks,

The admins at PZ.